“Detective Jerome turned to me and said “That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out. How the hell did she get there? She couldn’t have snuck in behind him because there were SWAT officers stationed at the entrance. There were no other entrances or exits into this room. She couldn’t have slipped in from under the table because Mark had checked there already as well as she couldn’t have come in from the other side because that’s where he just had been.” I shivered in terror. Detective Jerome said “I need to be sure. Is this the woman you saw?” pointing to the TV. I nodded silently. Detective Jerome took a deep breath. “Ok, Ms. Bellator, this may be difficult for you, but if we are ever going to find your friend, I’m going to need your help.” I took a deep breath and steeled my will “Ok, what do you need?” Detective Jerome said “I need your help coming up with a rational explanation for what happens during the next ten seconds of this film.”
My eyes darted back and forth between him and the film. On film, Mark clearly saw Himlaela. She stood directly in the brightest part of his flashlight. I asked quietly “What happens next?” Jerome walked back over to me, where I crouched next to the chair I had just tripped over. He grabbed my hand and helped me up. He leaned against the steel table and I did so as well. He put an arm around my shoulders and said “Ms. Bellator, I know this is scary. I promise, I will do everything I can to help you. I’m right here with you. I can’t explain it. You have to see it, but remember, this is just a recorded image. It cannot hurt you. Ok?” With his warm, authoritative body next to mine and a strong arm around my shoulders, a sense of security re-instilled itself in me. I nodded and said “Ok.”
Jerome pushed play on the remote control. I heard Mark scream “FREEZE!” Mark cocked and raised his gun directly at Himlaela’s chest.
Mark made it pretty damn clear that he wasn’t going to ask again.
Himlaela smiled coyly and then winked. Mark shouted “Hands in the air where I can see them!” Instead of raising her hands, Himlaela opened her mouth. At first it looked normal, but suddenly it transition into something straight out of a nightmare. The teeth, tongue, inner parts of the mouth were all gone. Only pitch-blackness existed in the interior of her mouth. Suddenly, her mouth opened incredibly wide, almost a foot wide and her lower jaw pressed down towards her chest. She lunged at Mark with an unearthly howl. Mark did what any normal, sane, rational person would do.
Mark pulled the trigger and let the submachine gun do the talking.
Multiple gunshots rang out in quick succession as Himlaela lunged. Before she reached him, she exploded into ashes and black feathers which floated down slowly. Mark screamed and began running, frantically, through the room back to where he started. Occasionally he turned and fired again towards the rear laying down covering fire. I watched as Mark met up with two other SWAT agents and they all ran outside. Outside the Urbex, Jerome confronted Mark and questioned him about the shooting. Mark threw down his gun and explained that he had to be hallucinating, but then Jerome pulled a black feather off of Mark’s SWAT armor and it evaporated into black ash in his hands. I watched on screen as Jerome’s eyes went wide and I turned to look at him. Jerome smiled at me weakly and said “Terror filled my mind, Ms Bellator. At first I thought we were all just high off the fumes from that shit those tweakers were cooking and I calmed myself down with that. We all went to the hospital yesterday and they checked us all out and gave us a clean bill of health. I came back to the office because, as incident commander, I have to write a report about the raid. When I reviewed the body-cam tape, well...” Jerome looked down sadly and said “I almost wish I hadn’t seen this, Ms Bellator. I almost wish I could go back to the world where stuff like this doesn’t happen.”
I looked into his face and saw his fear. I looked back at the screen. He had every right to be afraid. So did I. No longer did I feel like a suspect being interrogated by a police officer. I now felt like a scared girl leaning against a scared man in a scared universe. Jerome and I had nothing in common whatsoever other than the fact that Himlaela had stepped into both our lives.
…and now we trembled in terror together.
“Lauren.” I said quietly.
Jerome looked at me and I continued “You can call me Lauren.” I said to him “I’m like you, Jerome. I didn’t know about any of this stuff until I took a baby-sitting gig for Luke that night. I heard about it, but didn’t experience any of it until Himlaela appeared in my own bedroom earlier tonight.”
Jerome nodded and continued “Ok, Lauren, as you could imagine, normally I would write off what you said earlier as jabbering from someone suffering possibly from post-traumatic shock or something. But, as you can see from this video…” I watched as Mark ran alongside the other SWAT team and they jumped into the van and evacuated The Urbex. The camera shook heavily as Mark shivered and the other SWAT team members started talking saying things like “Mark, you will be ok. You just got a nose-full of that tweaker-shit. We’ll get you to the hospital and you will be fine.” Mark screamed back “Disarm and cuff me now, I’m fucking dangerous!” reluctantly the men went through the process of removing Mark’s sidearm pistol and putting cuffs on him. He did not resist them at all. He just kept screaming “Oh God I hope I didn’t shoot anyone. I have to be fucking hallucinating. Please get me to the fucking hospital and for the love of God tell me there’s an antidote to this fucking tweaker-shit!”
Jerome pushed stop and rewound the video to where Mark had Himlaela at gunpoint again firing at her. He froze the frame. Jerome sighed deeply and said “Ok, what do we know? I have your testimony that Himlaela spirited away your friend tonight. We have, in custody, some of her former followers but, curiously, she hasn’t done jack to rescue them.” Jerome looked at the screen and shook his head saying “But why? I mean, I’ve watched this video several times and I can tell Mark didn’t miss. By my count, Mark hit her at least six times, at point blank range right in the chest with full-metal-jacket rounds and it did nothing other than piss her off. Actually, how is Mark still alive? I mean, she could have eaten him or something.” I stared at the screen and pursed my lips saying “I don’t know.” Jerome shook his head “I don’t know either…”