Clement stalked after the Blob. It had gone into a corridor. “Got the little bastard,” he said. He was silhouetted in the doorway. There was a high window letting in moonlight. The Blob left a silver snailish trail. Tam tried to keep up. Clement didn’t run off on her, he stopped every few feet to check that she was still on his heels. Bizarrely, he chose this moment to say, “Used to work at the leather shop. Retired eight years now. These days I just do a bit of wood-turning at home.”

It spoke to me,” Tam said. Her voice shook like a twenty-year-old washing machine on spin. “Really spoke. What does that mean? Is it turning into something?”

Don’t ask me,” said Clement. “You’re the expert.”

They went through a door into a small office with a high ceiling. In the near-dark all the furniture might as well have been black Lego. There was another door across from them diagonally. As they appraised the room, they heard frantic shouts. Orange light burst through the door with a bass whooshing sound. Suddenly the Blob was in the room with them, fleeing the fire that had been thrown at it. Clement yelled, a high-pitched whinny. He let loose with the flame thrower. It was like Victorian Ghostbusters.

The Blob doubled back. Someone came through the other door. He was carrying a thermite lance. Its flare was far brighter than the flamethrower’s. The Blob was seen flinching. It glistened. It rolled back and forth like black dough being kneaded by giant, invisible hands. It was cornered.

It crawled up onto a windowsill. Tam wondered if it realised, like most animals, that its best chance now was to charge its attackers. But the Blob didn’t do that. Watching it, Tam’s brain cleared. Her temporary madness subsided. For a minute she had been in a crazy reality where Blobs talk and people like her are negotiators and deals are made and peaceful compromises reached. In the harsh new light she saw only demonic death. No more intelligence than a swarm of ants. She was spitting rage once again.

Then glass shattered. Pressure from the hysterical Blob had broken the window. A thin snake of flesh crawled through the gap so fast it looked like it was being sucked out an airlock. The Beast coalesced on the other side.

Clement realised he was losing his prey.

He shouted “Appomattox!” for some unknown reason as he ran forward and blasted the Omega before it was completely through the window. It was a palpable hit that left burned meat on the ground and that glue-factory smell in the air. The Blob fell off the window outside. Everyone scrambled and ran to catch it before it disappeared. They shouted. The shouts sounded like trumpet blasts.

By the time they got outside, The soles of Tam’s feet were bleeding profusely and seizing up. It felt like all this running had aggravated the damage to something permanent. She collapsed on the ornate steps outside the rear door of the museum.

A posse had come round this side, responding to shouts and yells from inside. Tam realised that these shouts had not been as chaotic as they sounded. They were clear signals. There was a cordon around them now, fifty feet wide. About ten people. Each one had some flaming weapon in their hands.

The back of the museum was a big square of stone flags. The Blob was clearly visible on the light grey surface. The volunteers hemmed it in, but they were nervous. Many of them were seeing it for the first time.

Clement, brazen, walked forward until he was within fifteen feet of the Blob. He seemed to know something the others didn’t: Omega Rex was on the run. He poured flame on it. The Blob scittered towards the cordon. The posse closed in. Each one gave a brief shot of flame when the Blob got too close to them.

But Clement was really going for it. He ended up far too close to the Blob. Finally, the inevitable happened. It jumped at him when he wasn’t expecting it. It got past the long hose of his flame thrower. That made it useless. The reduced Blob was only half Clement’s size but he wasn’t prepared for its morbid, sickening contact. It landed right on his chest and bowled him over. He screamed. The Blob went for his throat.

The encroaching crowd made horrified noises. They closed to a tight circle in two seconds flat. But none of them had the stomach to burn Clement along with the thing mauling him.

The decision was made for them when the tanks on Clement’s back exploded.

Advertisements