His followers had deserted him, his quarters had been destroyed, and he had faced a second death — all because of a meddling spirit.
The floor had collapsed under him, and the ceiling had caved in on top of him. He lay in a hole, which was actually a crater, in his basement floor where the sun couldn’t touch him.
Blue energy put out the flames as it tried to rejuvenate his scarred carcass. He knew it would be some time before his treatments allowed any mobility. That was all he had left — time and a thirst for revenge on the Randalls and that Deadman.
Finally, many days later, the undead creature formerly known as Lazarus Tremaine was at last ready to move away from its resting place to seek new pastures.
The undead man crawled from the wreckage at the fall of night. He had to move away from the house before the sun trapped him again; he couldn’t spend all his time simply trying not to fry under the daylight.
Tremaine found a van left over from his disciples and jimmied the lock with unusual care. He needed the vehicle to be intact, since the tinted glass would give him protection from the sun. His idea had to work, or he would cook like an egg.
He would not suffer another death. He was alive by his will, and he would stay that way. Nothing would get in his way as he rebuilt and planned again to get a new body. He could not live as he was for much longer.
The blue energy that revitalized him was also destroying him. He would crumple into a pile of grave dirt if he did nothing.
Tremaine drove the van north from the camp he had set up. If only Randall had brought the boy. If only that ghost had not interfered.
“Bah,” he said aloud in the silence.
If onlys were for the living. He had to deal with what was. That meant getting a new body to live in. He didn’t have a lot of time to do it. Already, the remaining parts of his corpse crumbled slightly every time he moved the wrong way.
Lazarus Tremaine reached Boston two days later, having had to rob a series of gas stations for fuel. He took the cash and killed the attendants out of habit. Additionally, he felt better after releasing his rage on some nobody who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Locating an underground garage, he parked the van in it while he planned his next move. He had to find some place to operate from where he could hide from the sun. His next exposure could be his last, the way things were going. Tremaine needed a secure base, and he knew there were certain places under the city where he could operate without problems.
As an attendant passed through the garage, a flashlight shone on the windows for a brief second as he walked along. He never saw the danger behind him. There was an instant of blue light, then nothing.
The undead man grabbed the attendant under his arms and dragged him into the van, making sure to shut the door.
“Tastes like chicken,” he told himself as he proceeded with his meal. Tremaine smiled to himself. Things were looking up.
Tremaine left the remains of the body in the back of the van. He felt better and actually looked better than he had in the past few days. A good meal always did that for him. It was a shame that the effect would only last for a few days. He would have to keep feeding and feeding. Sooner or later, someone would catch on.
What he needed was a new body, a young body that could control the blue flame, not this decrepit thing that creaked every time he moved a joint the wrong way.
A piece of new skin flaked away, much to his irritation. A small flame burned in the perforation for several seconds. Yes, a new body was needed.
Jack Ryder liked being on the street. He had moved from one place to the other, but had finally settled in Boston a few years ago. Although he didn’t know how long that would last, he was determined to enjoy it.
His remote unit pulled up outside a police situation. It was essentially a siege, as the police were being kept at bay by a group of madmen with a bomb and plenty of firearms. Ryder’s crew got everything ready in expert fashion, as usual. All he had to do was tell the city what was going on.
A cop wearing body armor ran over. “Get out of here, you stupid scumbag!” he said with a wave of his arms.
“Are you trying to restrict the freedom of the press?” rejoined Ryder, holding the microphone to the officer’s face.
The cop noticed the equipment was lit up and being used. “Shut it off, Ryder,” growled the cop. “The bad guys can see everything we do, thanks to you.”
“They won’t see much, will they?” said Ryder as he waved his crew to shut it down for the moment. “I’m going to get some coffee,” he said. “If Boston’s Finest decide to go in shooting, record it for me, and I’ll do a voiceover later.”
“Sure thing,” said Wallace Peters, the cameraman.
Ryder headed for a nearby restaurant, then slipped out of sight as soon as he could. A push of his finger awakened his alter ego.
Moments later, a yellow-skinned figure dressed in red and green, with wild green hair, leaped to the top of the restaurant. The Creeper crossed the power lines until he reached the building under siege. He then leaped onto the roof and went down the access stairs. He laughed once as he bounded down the stairs.
“Crap,” said the officer in charge. “The Creeper is on the scene.”
The Creeper’s laugh as he bounded down the staircase was startling to all those who heard it. He knew the hostages were on the top floor somewhere. All he had to do was find them and get them out of the hands of the real fruitcake.
He paused when he came to the first open door. A small group of dead people lay in a pile. As he stepped into the room quietly, a surviving hostage saw him. He raised an index finger to his lips, and the survivor nodded.
A footstep sounded in the next room, and a dragging sound came down the hall. The Creeper leaped to the door, concealing himself behind it.
A man appeared in the doorway, dragging a body behind him. Dropping the fresh corpse on the pile, he reached for the lone survivor as blue flame dripped from his hands.
A demonic laugh turned him around. Blue flame leaped from his hands at the hurling yellow form. It was a clean miss as the Creeper smashed both feet into the assailant’s chest, the impact sending the man hurling across the room.
“More interference,” hissed the ghoul through partially reconstructed lips. “You will pay for this.”
“Here’s the first instalment, Chuckles,” said the flamboyant hero as he leaped across the room between sizzling blasts of flame, then shouldered the monster through the window.
“Have a nice trip,” said the Creeper, leaning out the window. “See you next fall.”
“Thank you,” said the lone survivor. “He was going on about wanting our blood.”
The Creeper glanced over at the plump woman with a lecherous grin. “I can see why,” he said.
The bloodsucker hit the ground with an audible thump, and he got to his feet slowly. He cursed himself for losing control as blue flame scorched his new flesh and skin. Blasted meddlers everywhere.
“Got to go, Sweet-Cheeks,” the Creeper said as he leaped from the window. “Keep it warm for me.”
“Not likely,” the woman said.
The yellow hero laughed as he bounced down the side of the building. Hoping none of the cops would shoot at him when he hit the ground, he laughed all the way down.
Blue flames leaped in fury from the bloodsucker as he blasted at the cops and the Creeper. He was making his way to a manhole cover. The cops enfolded the hostage taker in self-defense, but the bullets just punched holes through the guy as he jogged forward, forcing the Creeper to take cover.
At least the sun isn’t up yet, thought Lazarus Tremaine as he ripped the heavy cover up and dropped into the sewer.