Serial Saturday: Nightmare Engine of Doom Part 23 – The Doom of the Nightmare Engine of Doom

The countess looked up, waving a massive wrench clutched in one gloved hand.

“I don’t know who you are,” she shouted over the idling of the steam-wagon, “but-” she broke off, staring across the lawn. “You! I thought you two were dead!”

I nudged Enzo in the shoulder as he picked himself up.

“Yes, yes,” he said irritably, dusting off his coat.

“Well, no matter,” the Countess shouted. “You’re too late. The Nightmare Engine of Doom is fully operational. All it required was the spleen of the eighth son of a ninth daughter, and I slotted that into the oil sump bracket not twenty minutes ago.”

“Not Ernest Borden!” I gasped.

“The same,” the Countess shouted triumphantly. “We lured him here two days ago.”

“Who, now?” Enzo asked as he patted his pockets and cast about, evidently looking for his radium pistol.

“Ernest Borden,” I said. “We’ve been keeping an eye on him, since he’s the eighth son of a ninth daughter. Really, we shouldn’t have let him wander around unsupervised, since so many bits of him can be used in occult rituals. Poor old Borden. I wonder if his eyelids are still around.”

The Countess, meanwhile, had cackled once more and now turned to make a few more adjustments with her wrench. I decided that worrying about what I might be able to do if I found parts of Borden around and raised my clockwork pistol, intent on ending the Countess once and for all.

At that moment, however, a palpable wave of force seemed to pulse outward from the Nightmare Engine of Doom, making me stagger backward and drop the pistol. I could hear the Countess cackling over the high-pitched whine of the engine. The force of the hideous arcane power was reshaping the very world, into a twisted version of itself. A side effect of this world-wrenching power was a force of pure evil that drove me to my knees, wracked with nausea. I was helpless to act, now that the Nightmare Engine of Doom was operational, and in fact I could barely see through the waves of horror pulsing from the thing.

Nevertheless, I did see Enzo, throwing me a quizzical look before striding resolutely toward the steam-wagon. In a flash, as I watched him stalk forward, brandishing his massive knife, I realized why our superiors had saddled me with him as a partner. Any normal person would have found themselves quite unable to act when exposed to hideous radiation of the Nightmare Engine of Doom, but Enzo’s sheer amorality seemed to protect him from its effects.

The Countess, engaged in making adjustments to the engine, didn’t even notice him until he had nearly reached her, but finally saw his approach. I heard her screaming for her driver to deal with him, and through watery eyes saw the man hop down from the steam-wagon, groping for a pistol.

The driver seemed a bit wobbly himself, clearly the worse for wear from his exposure to the engine, and he’d barely managed to draw his gun before Enzo neared and casually dispatched him.

“Hurrah,” I shouted as Enzo leapt for the steam-wagon, brandishing his blade. The Countess was not to be so easily dealt with, however. She whirled and swing her massive wrench, catching Enzo on the shoulder and throwing him down into the driver’s seat. She raised the wrench, intent on finishing off the little man, and I could just make out Enzo’s form squirming desperately to one side.

The steam-wagon suddenly lurched into motion as one of Enzo’s flailing limbs nudged a lever, throwing the Countess off balance. For several long seconds, her lean form shifted from side to side as she struggled to regain her equilibrium and the steam-wagon sped across the lawn, picking up speed.

For a moment, I thought the whole thing would drive right over me as I knelt helpless in the ground. Then the vehicle bumped over one of the many corpses scattered across the area and it lurched to one side. The steam-wagon slammed into a statue of a satyr, and the Countess was pitched onto the ground. The Nightmare Engine of Doom broke loose from its moorings and began to slide, ever so slowly, off the tilted steam-wagon.

The Countess looked up and let out a long, drawn-out scream. In fact, if she’d been a bit less focused on shrieking in terror she might have had time to get out of the way–the Nightmare Engine of Doom really did slide quite slowly. As it was, though, the scream was finally cut off by a heavy, liquid thud as the massive weight of the thing crushed her.

I found that either I was getting used to the pulsing waves of unpleasantness, or the fact that the engine lay on its side cut down on the radiation, for I was able to push myself to my feet and stagger toward it. I plucked the wrench from the Countess’ outstretched hand, the only part of her still visible beyond the pulsating, shrieking engine. After a few moments, I located the oil sump bracket, and a few turns of the wrench brought the unfortunate Ernest Borden’s spleen into view. I wrenched it free of the bracket and tucked it away for later use as the Nightmare Engine of Doom fell silent.

Working quickly, I made a few occult alterations to the steam engine of the wagon that had until recently born the Nightmare Engine of Doom, then located Enzo’s unconscious form several feet away in the grass as it began to make an ominous whistling noise.

The constabulary finally began to arrive as I dragged Enzo into the shrubbery at the periphery of the lawn, and I doubt any of them got more than a glimpse of it before the steam engine exploded, sending fragments of metal and arcane materials in all directions.

The explosion brought Enzo around like a tonic–the little fellow always did like his explosions–and we both sat and sipped from a flask of whiskey he carried as we watched police run to and fro, trying to number all the corpses amongst the wreckage and flames.

“Well,” Enzo said at last. “That wasn’t so bad.”


Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on March 24, 2012.