From owner-darkpl-l@PSUVM.PSU.EDU Sat Apr 20 08:58:08 1986
Date: Sat, 20 Apr 1986 08:57:12 -0700
Reply-To: Vagrant Demon Id
Sender: Garth Marenghi's Darkplace TV show fan list
From: Vagrant Demon Id
Subject: FANFIC "Night Of Blood And Thunder" (1/1)
To: Multiple recipients of list DARKPL-L
I have once again dipped my toe into the waters of fan fiction, this time to bring you a tale that, while it was never told during DP's too-brief run, should have been. We all want more DP, but in the meantime we must make do. (*Hello*, TPTB? More DP, please?)
This is a tale that answers many unanswered questions about Darkplace Hospital . . . where is it? *Why* is it? Is it any*where* at all? I know these are questions that have been, oh, much-debated amongst we aficionadae, but there is no room in the cold, factual realm of literature, even fan literature, for "consideration of other views" or "agree[ment] to disagree." There must such issues be firmly, coldly set to rest. If this story were canon, after all (And sooner or later, the march of technology predicts that Garth Marenghi *must* join our mailing list and set all such matters authoritatively to rest) there would be no debate.
So, with thanks to Beverly for her suggestion about Liz's greatest fear, to David for help with spelling and such matters lingual, and to Mike for that tape of episode 6 that I was missing (Mike: Peruvian commercials are amazing!), and without further ado, may I present . . .
Night Of Blood And Thunder
By The Vagrant Demon Id
Dr. Rick Dagless, MD, drove grimly through the cold, dark mists that hung perpetually around Darkplace Hospital. His custom-built car clung tightly to the turns, causing him to recall the day he'd built it with his own hands. He'd wanted something that looked nothing like any other car on the road, and he'd succeeded.
*As I've succeeded at so much else in my life,* he thought grimly to himself, *but none of that can erase the memory of my greatest failure.*
*Renwick.* The name reverberated in his mind like the clang of a bell. If he'd been able to stop Renwick opening the portal to hell, Darkplace might still be a "normal" hospital. It might still even be... but no. That was something he couldn't confront, even in the privacy of his own mind while driving his custom-built car.
Driving past the tellingly-twisted trees not found in nature in either Britain or America, he pulled into the underground garage and entered the hospital. Typically, the first person he encountered was Liz.
"Oh, Rick!" she cried! "You won't believe it!"
"Try me, Liz," Rick replied grimly. "I can believe . . . quite a lot."
"It's Wonton . . . he's dead!"
This news rocked Rick to his very soul. Wonton had not been his real name, obviously, merely a staff nickname for the little-seen and much-feared owner of Darkplace Hospital. It was because he was Chinese. Some, Rick knew, would consider such a nickname for a Chinese person to be "racist," but the staff of Darkplace were made of sterner stuff. They had all seen death, and even the horrors beyond it, and were too smart to worry about things like that.
But now, according to Liz, Wonton was dead. No more intense, shouted phone calls between him and Reed. No more threats of "I'll let Wonton know about this!!!" Darkplace, Dagless knew instinctively, had changed . . . forever.
"Oh he is, is he? How did it happen?" he asked Liz penetratingly.
Liz all but swooned at how quickly Rick absorbed this news and adapted, like a Marine, to intense new conditions. "Something killed him . . . we don't know what!"
Rick nodded grimly. "What was it?" he asked, wasting no time.
"Something . . . something in the basement!"
*The basement.* Rick thought, a grim expression coming on his face. *Of course.* The part of the hospital directly beneath where he and Renwick had opened the portal, which had been the canteen, as he'd specifically made clear in the first supernatural adventure he'd shared with Liz and Lucien. The fact that so much of the horror that had since enveloped the hospital like an otherdimensional envelope, had occurred within the basement, was because it lay midway between the canteen and hell it's very self.
"The basement." Rick said intensely. "Of *course.*"
Rick knew instinctively that he'd get no more useful information out of Liz. She was reacting instinctively to the horror that had consumed Wonton like an ethnic appetizer, which didn't make Rick a "sexist," merely a man. A keenly observant man who knew that women reacted to certain eldritch things differently than a man would, which was a natural observation that didn't make Liz any less of a doctor or a person than himself or even Lucien. If he was going to find out what had really happened, he'd need to talk to someone like Lucien or Reed.
Grimly, Rick stormed into Reed's office. "Reed," he demanded. "I need to know what . . . *really* happened. To Wonton, I mean."
Reed replied characteristically, as Rick had known he would. "Damn it, Rick, we don't need you meddling in dark forces that have already claimed a good Chinese man's life!!" he said, firmly. As he spoke, his position shifted suddenly and a telephone appeared in his hand instantaneously. Rick observed this supernatural phenomenon grimly, knowing that it was another manifestation of . . . but he did not let himself even think of such a thing . . . yet.
"If not me, Reed . . . then *who?*" he demanded, and Reed knew that he was right. No one in the medical profession or outside of it could match Rick Dagless, MD's expertise in matters of . . . there was no better word for it, Reed thought, *horror.*
"You're right, Rick," Reed said, pounding his desk characteristically. "The truth is, some kind of monster is loose in the basement, and it killed Wonton!"
*A monster,* thought Rick. *Of course. I was right to ask Reed.*
"If it's a monster, Reed," said Rick, "Then there's only one thing to do."
"And what's that?" asked Reed, producing a shotgun instantly from beneath a jacket too small to conceal it, again showing there was something supernatural at work, as though already knowing the answer.
"Kill it." said Rick grimly.
* * *
For monster-killing, Rick knew, there was one person to talk to. Dr. Lucien Sanchez, who habitually carried two handguns so as to be ready for anything, and who still owed Rick for castrating him to save his very life. He found Lucien in the canteen, where he, Rick, had once opened the portal to hell with his buddy Renwick. There was no time now for painful memories, though, not with a monster on the loose. Little did either of them know, however, how relevant those memories would become.
Lucien was, as Rick entered, lost in a haze of regret and bourbon whisky. "Rick," he said, not turning around, "do you ever wonder where we are?"
The question chilled even Rick Dagless to his soul, cutting too close to the horrors he'd seen, and recalling too closely a heart-rending deathbed conversation he'd once had with a brave young man named Clive. "Let's not talk about that, Lucien," he said, hoping to change the subject. "Let's talk about this monster in the basement."
"The one that killed Wonton?" Lucien asked keenly. "What about it?"
"It seems to me that it needs killing," Rick said grimly.
"You can count on me, Rick, you know that," replied Lucien, bravely, even though he no longer had a penis.
"I'll need you at my back, buddy," said Rick, looking deep into his eyes, " . . . and one of your spare guns."
"Anything for you, Rick," replied Lucien, pulling a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum Revolver out of his white doctor's coat. "you know that. You've always known that."
"Do you have anything with a better magazine capacity?" demanded Rick, grim. "Six shots might not do the job."
"Of course, old buddy," replied Lucien, pulling an Israeli Desert Eagle chambered in .41 Magnum with a 10-inch barrel out of his boot. "Will this do you?"
"It just might at that," replied Rick, grasping it firmly, feeling the beavertail safety give smoothly in his grip. Lucien kept it well-oiled.
* * *
As Rick and Lucien, guns protruding steely from their pants, made their way from the canteen to the midway point between that and hell, which was the basement, they were interfered with by Liz, blonde hair framing her face like an otherworldly halo.
"Rick . . . Lucien." she said breathlessly. "You can't go alone."
"We're not alone," replied Rick, his voice grim. "I have him and he has me."
"But you need me too!" Insisted Liz, stamping her foot.
"By God," interrupted Lucien, narrowing his eyes, "what on earth for?"
"My psionic powers," pointed out Liz, "which activated as soon as I set foot in Darkplace and not before!"
"By God, she's right!" said Lucien, turning his dark-eyed Latin gaze on Rick.
"Your powers," said Rick, eyes narrowing behind the glasses that Liz secretly felt only made him sexier, "are only useful for information gathering, seeing the future and the past, uncovering secrets, that kind of thing. You're best off staying out of this kind of donnybrook."
"What's a donnybrook?" Liz asked, eyes wide.
"It's a word for an all-out fight to the death. I guess most people don't know that." said Rick, explaining himself.
"But I have more powers than that!" Liz said, standing her ground before the two men. "I've exhibited very powerful telekinesis in the past!"
"Not since your telekinesis killed Clive," replied Rick grimly. "And anyway the lobotomy Lucien gave you afterward cured that part of your powers."
"But my powers have continued to develop after that, and now they're really practical," Liz said, eyes searching within Rick's eyes for approval.
*If Liz's powers have continued to develop* Rick thought, expressing nothing of his inner thoughts to either the man or the woman standing near him, *then Darkplace has changed . . . forever.*
"All right, Liz, if you're willing to take risks like a man, then you can stand with us as we confront the ultimate horror in the basement." Rick's voice was as warm as he could make it when he said this, but his soul was grim.
"Isn't Clive a pretty unusual name for an American?" Lucien interjected musingly.
"He was . . . from Bermuda." Rick knew, even as he spoke those words, that neither of them was ready for the full, awful truth.
"And me too!" said Reed, popping out of nowhere as he so often did, his favorite shotgun in his hands as ever. "Going with you to the basement, I mean. Not that I'm from Bermuda!"
The four doctor-friends shared a characteristic hearty laugh at that, but silently Rick wondered if it would be the last such laugh they would all share. He laughed the more heartily, hoping to savor it.
The basement was dimly-lit and carried, to Rick's highly-trained perceptions, a scent of pure evil. He wondered if any of the others were sensitive enough to be aware of it. Probably not, he realized. Another way in which the path he walked was a lonely one. Suddenly, from around a corner, appeared an amorphous shape. Though it lacked any specific form, it had an indescribable aura of palpable, horrifying evil.
"What is that thing???" shrieked Liz, her voice shrill.
"I . . . can't tell!" cried Lucien bravely, "It hasn't got any shape!"
"Hasn't got any shape . . . *yet.*" Rick said, grimly drawing both Lucien's borrowed Desert Eagle and his own Colt .45 Revolver, enabling him to lay down twice as much lead on target as a man with only one gun. He only hoped it would be enough.
Reed leapt forward, knowing that his shotgun was most effective at shorter ranges, but before he could even take aim, the shape was twisting, changing form, becoming . . . Wonton! But this was not the firm but quiet and polite Chinese administrator the doctor-friends had known. This was a Wonton out of a nightmare, nine feet tall, fanged, clawed, reeking of pure inhuman evil.
"Wonton!" cried Reed happily, lowering his shotgun. "You're alive after all!"
"THORNTON REED." said the inhuman figure, "I AM WONTON, YOUR BOSS. AND YOU ARE FIRED."
"Fired?" cried Reed disbelievingly, knowing deep in his heart of hearts that Wonton had the authority to do it, "*NOOOOOOOO! It can't be!*" His entire reason for being having been torn away from him in an instant, he collapsed to the floor, shivering, useless.
"I WILL CONSUME HIM LATER," snarled the giant Wonton, who Rick now knew to really be the monster, "ONCE I HAVE DESTROYED EACH OF YOU."
"Not if me and the .357 have anything to say about it, you freak!" insisted Lucien, stepping forward and pumping hot lead into the monster. Rather than falling before the .357's stopping power, however, the monster began changing shape again, changing into something even more terrifying, a form that struck at the deepest fears in man's heart. It was an enormous penis, towering over Lucien's cowering form. And no ordinary penis, either . . . it was the bright green of fresh broccoli.
*Of course,* Rick through, levelling both his guns grimly, *this creature . . . whatever it is . . . can assume the shape of a person's greatest fear. No wonder it's invincible.* Without further ado, he started pulling the triggers as fast as he could with both hands, John Woo style. *Another reference Liz wouldn't understand* he thought to himself with grim amusement.
The bullets punched into the giant green penis like leaden needles, riddling it with hot death . . . except that it didn't die. It slapped Lucien aside contemptuously, leaving him a shivering, emasculated heap in the corner alongside Reed. Suddenly, it shuddered! It reeled back, form rippling and shifting supernaturally.
"WHAT IS THIS? WHAT FORCE DO I NOW FACE?" asked the monster, baffled. Rick's narrowed eyes darted immediately to Liz, who was staring intently at the monster, eyes not narrowed but widened. *Of course,* thought Rick, *Liz's psionic powers. She's using them to repel the monster. Good old Liz.*
Liz advanced on the monster, intent on her psionic assault on the fear monster. Suddenly, without any warning, the creature said "NOW SHALL I DEFEAT YOUR PUNY PSIONIC ASSAULT!" and turned to face Liz, becoming . . . Liz herself! As Rick watched, horrified, still firing both pistols as fast as he could, the monster-Liz was rejected by none other than Dr. Rick Dagless MD, and then had to move back in with her mother, who never actually called the monster-Liz fat but kept leaving diet articles clipped out of Women's World on her bed.
Liz shrieked, a high and shrill note of horror and fear that left her cowering against a wall. Now nothing stood between the monster and Rick. Rick could sense that their final confrontation was fast approaching.
"NOW, BEFORE I CONSUME YOUR DOCTOR-FRIENDS," said the monster intimidatingly, "I SHALL DESTROY YOU UTTERLY, RICK DAGLESS, MD. AND YOU KNOW WHY."
"Yes I do," replied Rick, knowingly. "It's because I, along with Renwick who's dead now," *dead at my own hand!* Rick thought grimly, "opened the portal to hell in this hospital."
"AND I AM THE ULTIMATE, MOST TERRIFYING MANIFESTATION OF THE HORROR YOU HAVE UNLEASHED!!" said the monster in a frightening voice. "JUST AS THE HOSPITAL ITSELF, AND EVERYTHING AROUND IT, IS TRAPPED IN AN OTHERDIMENSIONAL NETHERWORLD EVER SINCE YOU OPENED THE PORTAL."
"Yes," said Rick, who knew this, even though the nature of the spell meant that nobody else knew it. "We're not in any one nation or place. That's why our accents sometimes sound British and sometimes American, why we have an owner from China and an administrator who's probably from Africa and whose name is from America. We have chefs who wear French chef hats but don't sound French. We even had a temp from Bermuda. We are outside the entire earthly world and partake of all of it."
"I KNOW ALL THIS," replied the monster, that did. "IT IS OBVIOUS TO ALL BUT YOUR TINY HUMAN BRAINS."
"Not all our brains are so tiny!" answered Rick cleverly, and resumed firing both pistols straight into the monster. To no avail however, as it continued to approach him despite the powerful high-caliber rounds punching into its amorphous supernatural body. Now it was almost close enough to touch him, and Rick suddenly realized that in this case, bullets would not be enough. He lowered the red-hot, smoking guns, and narrowed his eyes at the monster.
Suddenly, the creature dwindled gradually, over the space of mere seconds vanishing into near-nothingness . . . then nothingness. Rick realized that he had, in the nick of time, divined the creature's sole weakness. A creature that prayed on it's victims fear could not attack a man who had no fear. In the face of a man who feared nothing, it had become . . . NOTHING!!
Holstering his guns, Rick went to help up Lucien, Reed, and Liz. He didn't begrudge them their weakness. No one could help being afraid sometimes, if they weren't him. Just as no one could carry the burden of knowing that they were no longer in the normal world except him, no one else could have defeated the fear monster. They were, Rick reflected ruminatively, lucky to be alive. One thing was certain, however--: Darkplace had changed . . . forever. And would never be the same.
| In hindsight it may even seem inevitable that |
| a socialist society will starve when it runs |
| out of capitalists. |
| -Larry Niven |
| The Vagrant Demon Id |
| firstname.lastname@example.org |