Chapter Sixty Eight

The roads were beginning to fill up as early morning commuters headed to work.  The Octopus cackled as he slammed the side of the limo into a minivan, sending it careening off the road.
 
“Out of the way!" he shouted, honking the horn.  “Coming through!"
 
He wove his way through traffic with far more dexterity than I thought a limousine could have, laughing every time he ran into another car.  I glanced backwards again, and saw that Victor was still hot on our trail, holding his wand out behind himself to propel the shopping cart forward.  He swerved left and right, narrowly avoiding the other cars, many of which were spinning out of control after the Octopus ran into them.
 
“He's still catching up," Hendricks said, irritated.  “Put your foot down, you idiot!"
 
“Yes, boss!" the Octopus said, and the limo accelerated even more.  The entire thing shuddered every time it collided with another car, and I finally decided to take Hendricks' advice and buckled up.  I kept my eyes on the seatbelt, though, not convinced that it wouldn't turn into a snake or something when I looked away.  Then I turned and looked back at Victor again.
 
The limo swung into the left lane, hitting a pickup truck and sending it skidding into the middle of the road directly in Victor's path.  Victor pointed his scepter at the ground and let out a large burst of magic, launching him over the truck.  He hit the road on the other side, swaying only a little bit as he regained his balance.
 
“You couldn't hit a wall if you were driving straight for it," Hendricks snapped, and rolled down his window.  He pointed the tip of his cane out, and fired off another bolt of black lightning.  Victor blocked it with his wand, but made himself lose momentum in doing so.  Hendricks shot at him again, and this time struck the cart itself.  It swerved to the left until it hit the concrete barrier on the side of the road.  Victor pointed his wand the other direction, trying to propel himself away.  The metal cart made a high pitched squealing sound that I could hear from inside the car as it ground against the railing, throwing up sparks.  He was coming up behind another truck fast, and I clenched my teeth, hardly able to keep watching.  At the speed he was going, running into a car would be the same as being hit by one.
 
Victor noticed the truck at the last second, and jumped from the shopping cart, landing on the rear bumper.  His arms windmilled for a second, trying to keep from falling off, and then he grabbed the top of the cab and held on.  The cart kept going on its course, and hit the back of the truck.  The driver probably didn't even feel the flimsy metal basket rear end him, but the cart flipped over the top of it, landing in the middle lane and chaotically rolling end over end.  Seeing it, Victor steadied himself on the wall of the cab, and jumped off, landing on the shopping cart.  For a second, he seemed to hang in midair, juggling the bouncing web of metal with his feet until it was upright, and then it slammed back down onto the pavement and he was riding it again.  The bars were all twisted, and I noticed how Victor had to lean to one side to keep it from tipping over, but he was still coming.
 
I wasn't able to decide if he looked ridiculously awesome riding that thing, or just ridiculous.
 
“He's still coming," Hendricks snapped. “I thought I told you to lose him."
 
“Trying, boss!" the Octopus said. “Just gotta­—"
 
“Go out there and get rid of him," the demon ordered.
 
The scrawny man gave him a shocked look from the driver's seat, and Hendricks waved for him to get going.  Without a word, the Octopus forced his door open and climbed out on top of the car.
 
“I thought magical people were supposed to keep a low profile," I said, and immediately regretted it when Hendricks turned his soulless black eyes on me.
 
“More work for Majestic," he said, grinning to show off his razor sharp teeth.  “Repairs, replacements, memory alterations.  What better place for them than cleaning up my mess?"
 
I heard the Octopus' footsteps above us, and then he jumped down to stand on the trunk.
 
Wait a minute, I thought, my common sense kicking in.  If he's out there, then who's…
 
I looked up to the front again, afraid that I'd see an oncoming car hurtling towards us at top speed.  The steering wheel was still turning though, guiding us through traffic just like it had before.  Somehow, I wasn't even surprised by this.
 
Outside, the Octopus made all eight of his disembodied arms grow out of Victor's cart.  They slapped at him, punched him, and grabbed his clothes and hair, but Victor swatted them away with his wand.  That cost him momentum, though, and the limo began to gain distance again.
 
“Ignore the arms!" I yelled, pretty sure he couldn't hear me from inside the car. “Shoot him!"
 
“Good advice," Hendricks chuckled, sounding more amused than worried.
 
Whether or not he'd heard me, Victor got the picture and aimed his scepter at the Octopus.  The little man squealed in fright, ducking and covering his head, but that did nothing to stop the searing bolt of red energy that came flying at him.  It struck him in the chest, throwing him off the limo and under the wheels of a passing car.
 
“Holy crap!" I shouted, trying to sit up in my seat and hitting my head on the ceiling.
 
“Hmm," Hendricks mused, putting his hand to his chin, “you just can't get good help these days."
 
I looked at him in disgust, and he smiled back.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that a demon wouldn't care if his workers got killed.
 
“Not that this isn't fun," he said, turning back towards the empty driver's seat, “but we really need to get out of here."
 
The car responded again, picking up speed and leaving Victor behind.  My palms started to sweat, greasing the leather seat beneath me.  That last attack had slowed Victor down too much.  He'd never be able to catch up to us now.  Without him, how was I going to—
 
Another blast of red magic struck the back windshield, shaking the car.  It didn't damage the glass, but the next one managed to crack it a little.  I turned around in my seat and saw Victor way off in the distance, but gaining ground by the second.  He was standing on top of the cart now, balancing on it like a skateboard, and was alternating between propelling himself forward with his wand and blasting the car with it.  He shot the windshield again, and the cracks spread.
 
“Oh, good grief," Hendricks groaned. “Just give up already!"
 
“Have you met this guy?" I asked, giving Hendricks the coldest glare I could muster. “He's not going to give up.  That would hurt his pride too much."
 
Hendricks looked at me and smirked.  “Then I guess I'll have to help him give up!"
 
He unbuckled himself, picked up his cane, and turned to wait patiently for Victor to catch up.  He had a hungry look in his eyes, and I was reminded again of how much they looked like a shark's— which meant Victor was the helpless little guppy he was about to chow down on.  It only took a few seconds for Victor to drive the cart right up to the limo's back bumper, and then he bent his knees and leaped the gap to land on the trunk.
 
Hendricks burst through the back windshield, his body contorting like smoke so he could fit.  Glass sprayed everywhere, and Victor barely had a chance to realize what was going on before the demon grabbed him by the throat and lifted him off his feet.
 
Oh crap, I thought as I watched, horrified but unable to look away. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap!
 
Victor struggled for a few seconds, but couldn't break the demon's grip.  So, instead, he took his scepter and rammed it into Hendricks' chest.  The pointed gem at the end cut straight through his skin, embedding itself right where his heart should have been.  Hendricks howled with pain, and I saw a small part of his coat glowing red.  Part of me was happy Victor had managed to hurt him, but the other part was disgusted when I imagined what was going on inside the demon's body.  Would that be enough to kill him?  Apparently not, I realized as Hendricks screamed with rage and twisted to slam Victor's face into the hood of the car, making a Victor-shaped dent in the roof right above my head.
 
I watched as the demon held Victor so their faces were only inches apart.  For a second, I thought Hendricks was going to bit his neck like a vampire, but instead he spoke to him.
 
“I know this won't kill you," he said, his voice dripping with rage, “but I hope it hurts a lot."
 
He drew his arm back and threw Victor out into the road.  He bounced when he hit the pavement, then rolled, and then skidded before coming to a halt in a broken, bloody tangle.  I winced, but Hendricks wasn't done yet.  He raised his cane and fired one last bolt of black lightning at a semi-truck that was coming behind us.  The truck exploded in a huge ball of fire, and the entire thing flipped over.  The trailer flew into the air, up and over the truck itself, and then crashed back down onto the road— smashing Victor beneath it.
 
“Oh my…" I whispered, unable to pull my eyes off of the flaming wreck in the middle of the road.  In the distance, I could hear police sirens wailing, coming to stop the insane limousine.  Too little, too late.  Hendricks stood where he was on the back of the car for a few more seconds before ripping the scepter from his chest and throwing it away.  When he turned around to climb back in, I saw the whole in his chest that went straight through his coat and the shirt beneath.  Not a drop of blood was coming out of the wound.
 
“You… You…" I stammered, pressing myself against the wall to create more space between us as he took his seat.  “You just…"
 
“Amber, you may notice that I am not in a good mood right now," he said, pointedly not looking at me.  “Irritate me, and I will be forced to tear your head off."
 
If anyone else had said that, I would have assumed they were exaggerating.  Not Hendricks, though.  Not after what I'd just seen.  So I shut my trap and we rode the rest of the way to his hideout in silence.
 
 
 
NEXT TIME: Holy crap, was that awesome— OR WAS THAT AWESOME?! Here's a hint: it was awesome!  But, unfortunately, Amber's still in Hendricks' clutches, and who knows what that maniac has planned for her?
 

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