Continuing our story, I am suddenly struck by something: every single one of the shops/restaurants/etc at the Mall of America that appear in this story have since either closed or changed hands. The Mall stays busy, that’s for sure.
The Resurrection of Evil
Episode Four: Games People Play In the Middle Of the Night
“There’s evil brewing, getting out of control
And I’m helpless I can’t put it right
Something unrighteous is possessing my soul
And it’s cold in the heat of the night.”
— “May Be a Price to Pay,” the Alan Parsons Project
The broken glass clean up had taken half an hour. The body had been removed immediately for autopsy. The Doctor, Terri, and Methos had been released as soon as it was determined that they were only bystanders, protected by the Good Samaritan Law. The police were not called; it seemed to Mall security to have been nothing more than a sudden death by natural causes. A seizure, perhaps. Or some kind of drug overdose.
That last possibility was heavy on Terri’s mind as she stood with the Doctor and Methos on the balcony by the vast movie theater, which stretched all the way across the length of the South Side of the Mall, sprawled above the Third Floor food court.
Terri leaned out across the rail. Far below, the amusement park had gone dark. Security lights illuminated the pathways, but mysterious shadows played in the voids between, untouched by the lights.
“But how?” she asked. “And why?”
The Doctor did not answer right away. He stared out across the darkened fair rides with an intensity that frightened Terri. “I don’t know,” he said. “But I intend to find out.”
–The Doctor is back, thought Terri. In spite of herself, she found herself smiling grimly. –Watch out, Edward Chevalier. The Doctor’s here, and he means business.
“Meanwhile,” said Methos, cutting neatly through the mood, “an avowed killer of Immortals is hanging out here. I don’t want to get involved. It’s time to make an exit.”
The Doctor looked up, surprised. “Methos,” he said, stepping back from the rail. “I don’t know you as well as I could. But fair’s fair; you don’t know me well either. But if we don’t find out what’s happening and put a stop to it, lots of innocent young people are going to die. Now I don’t care about your silly Game,” he said, shaking his head. Terri was startled by the passion in his voice. “But I do care about people. Innocent people.” The Doctor looked into Methos’ eyes. Terri gave the man credit; he didn’t flinch in the Doctor’s implacable gaze. “People who might one day save Earth from a Dalek invasion, or develop a cure for AIDS, or write great poetry. People who deserve a fair chance to live.”
He held Methos in his eyes for a moment longer, then turned away. “I . . . .” The Doctor’s shoulders drooped. He walked to the edge of the stairwell leading down to the darkened third floor food court. He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry,” he said, staring into the shadows below. “Do as you will.”
Just then a movie got out. People began streaming out of the theater, talking animatedly about the impressive special effects. Terri ignored them. She turned to Methos. “Do what you have to,” she said. “I’m sticking with the Doctor.” And she weaved across the crowd until she was standing by the Time Lord.
After a time, as quickly as it had started, the crowd petered out, then disappeared entirely in a wash of candy wrappers and fallen popcorn. Terri wondered vaguely what the movie had been.
“Oh, all right,” said Methos, coming to stand beside her. She smiled up at him. He scowled. “I’ll stay. But if things start warming up, I’m leaving, Doctor.”
The Doctor turned. His whole face was lit up in a smile. “Excellent! Let’s get started, then.”
The music filled the nightclub, throbbing in the air. Nora put her hands over her ears, but it didn’t help. She hated the New Music and she hated Ace of Swords, which was a pity because they were covering some of her favorite songs tonight. Despite her best efforts, she found herself listening.
“There are unsmiling faces and bright plastic chains
And a wheel in perpetual motion
And they follow the races and pay out the gains
With no show of an outward emotion.”
The Turn of a Friendly Card, Part One, by The Alan Parsons Project. Nora loved Alan Parsons. So, it seemed, did Edward. Ace of Swords had played this song twice already this evening.
“And they think it will make their lives easier
For God knows up till now it’s been hard
But the game never ends when the whole world depends
On the turn of a friendly card.”
Nora stopped listening. Suddenly she knew what it meant. “Oh, Edward . . . .” She fled the nightclub, rushing out into the chromed midnight of the fourth floor promenade.
Terri, Methos, and the Doctor meandered all over the southern end of the nightclub promenade. So far, their search had been fruitless. In deference to Methos, Terri had refused to let the Doctor return to the Turn of a Friendly Card. So instead they had moved quietly through the crowds in an effort to find another dealer.
After a time, they slumped against a shimmering pillar, disconsolate.
“This is stupid,” said Terri. “We don’t even know where to start.” The Doctor dug in his pocket but didn’t answer. After a moment he pulled something out and examined it.
“What’s that?” asked Methos
“I’m not quite sure,” he replied. Terri peeked. It was a small white packet.
She inhaled sharply through her teeth. “If that’s what I think it is, you’d better be careful who sees it.”
The Doctor smiled suddenly. He opened his mouth to speak, but before he could say a word, a woman’s voice called his name.
“Doctor!” Terri looked around for the source of the voice.
It was Nora. She came to halt in front of them, breathing heavily. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Doctor put the packet away.
“Doctor,” said Nora. “You guys have gotta help me,” she said.
Terri frowned. “What with?”
“It’s . . . well, it’s my assignment.”
“What do you mean?” asked the Doctor.
“Edward Chevalier. He’s . . . .” She gestured wildly with her hands. “I mean, what he’s doing . . . it’ s evil.”
“Calm down,” said Terri. “What are you trying to tell us?”
Nora looked at her as though seeing her for the first time. “Edward . . . he’s nuts. Ever since he took Rhieinwylydd’s head, he’s been . . . .” She broke off and shook her head violently. “I know about our oath and all. But this is different. He’s killing mortals.”
“The White Lightning,” said the Doctor.
“Yeah,” replied Nora. “The other Watchers don’t know yet, but . . . oh, god,” she said. “I . . . he threatened me. He . . . .” She swayed forward. The Doctor caught her by the shoulders and supported her. When she spoke again, it was in a whisper. “He made me tell him . . . where all the Immortals in the Twin Cities were living. He . . . I helped him *kill* them . . . I told him everything.” She began to whimper softly.
“Miss Levitson . . . Nora,” said the Doctor. “Nora! Listen to me! Edward used you. It’s not your fault. Now what he’s done is wrong, but you must help us. Do you understand?” She stopped whimpering but did not answer. He shook her gently, and she looked up. “Nora, Edward must be stopped. You can help.”
The four of them were frozen there for a moment. The Doctor supporting Nora; Terri and Methos watching in hypnotic fascination. Then, slowly, Nora nodded.
“What is Edward doing?” asked the Doctor.
“I’m not completely sure,” said Nora weakly. “At first I thought he just wanted to win the Game. But now . . . .” She sighed. Her eyes glittered with moisture. — My God, thought Terri. What did Edward do to the poor woman?
“Now what?” asked the Doctor. His voice was soft and gentle.
“He’s supplying the drug,” she said. “The White Lightning. Don’t know much about it.” She shrugged. The Doctor released her shoulders and she stood under her own power. “It’s all over his club. The Turn Of a Friendly Card.”
“We know,” said Methos. “We were there.”
She nodded. “Edward said.” She looked up and met each of their eyes in turn. “He also said again that one of you is Immortal. I know that one of you was lying when you said you weren’t Immortal.”
Terri kept her eyes away from Methos.
“But that’s okay,” Nora continued. “I understand. Edward’s a mean son of a bitch. I hate him.” She spat on the grey carpet. “Whichever of you it is, stay away from him. He’s killed enough people.”
The Doctor nodded. “And tonight it ends,” he said firmly.
Methos smiled. “You remind me of Mac.”
“Who?” asked the Doctor.
The smile dropped from Methos’ face. “Someone who would do just the same stupid thing you’re about to do. Rush in, get involved, and end up ten inches shorter. If you’re worried about the drug, tell the police! Let them deal with it.”
Nora stepped back a foot. “It’s you, isn’t it?” she said. It was not a question. “You’re the Immortal.”
Methos turned to face her. “Yes. And I didn’t survive as long as I did by taking foolish risks.”
“Foolish risks?” said the Doctor, his tone rising into indignation. “Foolish risks? I know more about ‘foolish risks’ than you’ll ever know, believe me! The Universe is based on them. The greater risk is not in stopping Edward, but in letting him continue.” He sighed and let his head fall forward. After a moment, he looked up agian. When he spoke, his voice was soft. “You think five thousand years is a long time? It’s the blinking of an eye to the Universe. Just because indifference has helped you survive that long doesn’t mean it will save the Earth now, Methos.”
Nora gasped at the name, but was ignored.
“I don’t know . . . ,” said the Doctor, turning away. “Do what you like. Terri, Nora, let’s pay Edward Chevalier a visit.”
Inside the Turn Of a Friendly Card, the sound level had dropped considerably. Ace of Swords had just finished a set and was taking a break. Nora was relieved. There was something about their music that unnerved her.
It was the New Music style, she decided. It had come into vogue only within the past month and contained a curious background beat that turned even calm Alan Parsons songs into great dance music. Nora didn’t know much about music, but she did know when her favorite songs were being changed into something else.
She stood behind Terri and the Doctor, listening to the euphoric hum of a crowd trying to adjust to speaking in normal tones again. She wondered how much of the euphoria was due to White Lightning –Probably most of it, she thought. Edward had certainly stockpiled a lot of the stuff. –I wonder where he gets it.
He hadn’t told her. Then again, he hadn’t told her much. It was only two weeks ago that she’d worked out about the White Lightning. And only one week ago that Edward had ordered her to sever all ties with her friends.
She shivered, not wanting to think about it. So she watched the Doctor instead as he negotiated with one of the staff.
“No, I don’t want to speak to your supervisor, I want to see the proprietor,” he was saying. “Edward Chevalier.”
“Okay, okay,” said the man. Nora recognized him as Freddie Peterson, busboy and in-house sound engineer. He handled all the sound equipment and sometimes even the lighting rigs when a band was performing. He and Edward seemed to have developed something of a bond. –Probably the best person for the Doctor to talk to. I mean, who else can drop everything and go get Edward?
The Doctor turned. There was a smile on his face.
Terri spoke. “Success?” she asked. The Doctor nodded. There was a kind of rapport between them, Nora noticed. –Wonder what Terri was doing when she disappeared for three years. Interesting.
“So what now?” asked Nora.
“We wait,” said the Doctor. There was a table nearby, with three empty chairs all ready. With a smooth motion, he slid into one of the chairs.
Terri smiled at Nora. “He’s always like this,” she said and sat down alongside the Doctor.
Nora shrugged. “I’ll go get us something to drink while we wait.”
“How about some tea?” asked the Doctor.
Nora grinned. Although she hardly knew the man, tea somehow seemed just right for him. “I’ll see what I can do.”
Methos stood in the southeast corner of the Mall, critically examining the Arnold Schwarzenegger dummy that stood outside Planet Hollywood. This was the very end of the nightclub promenade, where the chrome and neon joined up with the long, winding passageway to the movie theater.
–Unrealistic, he thought, peering at the simulated flesh covering half of the dummy’s animatronic face. It was the T-800 puppet that had been shot at in “Terminator 2.” –And it looked so real in the movie.
He shrugged after a while. The thought of going inside and having a good beer was becoming steadily more attractive. And as far as he could tell, there were no evil Immortals hanging around Planet Hollywood, lurking in the shadows and waiting for their prey.
–I wonder how the Doctor is, he thought. –Probably dead. Well, that’s his problem.
He turned away from the Terminator and examined the celebrity handprints instead. –Bruce Willis . . . Demi Moore . . . Arnold Schwartzenegger . . . well, the last one makes sense. He owns the place, after all.
A voice broke into his thoughts.
He straightened. It sounded suspiciously like that Nora woman. He turned.
It was Nora. He sighed. –Should’ve gone inside after all.
She skidded to a halt in front of him, breathing heavily.
“You’re getting good exercise today,” he commented.
She didn’t react to the gibe. “You’ve gotta help,” she said between pants. “It’s Edward. He’s got them.”
“What happened?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s like he was expecting them.” There was a sinking feeling in Methos’ stomach. “He didn’t know I was there, fortunately. I was getting drinks. When I got back, he was leading them out the door. With both of the bouncers. I followed. They went out to the ramp. Top floor.”
She paused and got her breath back. “You’ve gotta help me. He’s gonna kill them, I just know it.”
“Why?” he said. “Why should I help?”
Nora straightened. “Because they’re your friends.” Her brows knit. “Aren’t they?”
The midnight air was warm, but dry. A cool breeze floated past Edward and his prisoners, standing in a row of empty parking spaces. Terri tipped back her head to drink it in. For a moment, she was able to trick herself into thinking her hands were not tied behind her back.
“The stars are out,” commented the Doctor.
“Which one’s Gallifrey?” asked Terri.
“It’s too far away to see,” he replied. But he stared steadfastly at a section of sky east of the Dippers and north of the the arc of the Milky Way. Terri wondered if that was the right direction.
“Enough,” said Edward. He was wearing his overcoat. “Leave us.”
The two burly men who had escorted them there left. “So much for starwatching,” said Terri.
“Too much light pollution anyway,” replied the Doctor.
When the bouncers were out of sight, Edward reached into his coat and drew his sword.
“So, Doctor,” he said, “this is where it will end.”
“I’m not Immortal, you know.”
Edward laughed. “Oh, I know that, Doctor! But do you? You think you’re immune to accidents. You think you can’t be killed.” Suddenly he slid right next to the Doctor. The point of his sword touched the Doctor’s chin. Terri could see the dent it made in the Time Lord’s skin. “But you’re wrong. And I’m going to prove it!”
“Just one question,” said the Doctor.
“Oh, no,” said Edward, chuckling. “No last requests. Not this time. Only death. You hear me, Doctor? Only death!”
Edward drew his arm back, preparing to swing. Then a curious expression came over his face and he lost all interest in the Doctor. Terri breathed a sigh of relief.
The voice clearly belonged to Methos. Terri’s heart rose and sank both at the same time. –The calvary has arrived, she thought. –But dear God, don’t let anything happen to him.
The corner of Edward’s lips curled up. He cast a sidelong glance at the Doctor, still ignoring Terri. “Ah! A welcome diversion!” He stepped away from his prisoners. “Come out, come out, wherever you are!” he called.
Methos stepped out. His sword was in his right hand, ready. There was a curious smile on his face. “You’ve made a mistake, my friend.”
Edward laughed. “The only mistake is yours. What is your name?”
“Doesn’t matter, now does it?” Methos stepped forward. “There can be only one.” He said it with a certainty that startled Terri.
“Not strictly true,” replied Edward, “but I shall enjoy killing you all the same.”
For an answer, Methos swung his sword at Edward. The shorter Immortal parried easily. The sounds of their duel rang across the moonless night. Terri briefly wondered why Mall security didn’t intervene.
“Terri,” said the Doctor, “do you think you can reach my pocket?”
“Why?” She spared a moment from watching the fight to look at the Doctor.
“I think I’ve got a knife in there.”
“Okay,” she said. She moved closer, then squirmed around, trying to get her hand into his pocket. “I must look ridiculous,” she said.
“Nonsense,” said the Doctor. “Just see if you can reach.”
There was cry of pain. Terri looked up.
Edward was clutching his left shoulder with his sword hand. “First blood,” he said. Even at the distance, Terri felt she could see his eyes smouldering at Methos. “But I saw better in the court of King John!” And with a snarl, he threw himself back into the fray.
“King John?” said Terri. “He must be older than I thought.”
“Never mind that,” said the Doctor. Terri sighed and returned her attention to the Doctor’s pocket. She was concentrating so hard that she never saw Nora arrive.
“Terri!” she hissed.
She looked up. “Nora? Get us out of here!”
“No prob.” Nora produced a Swiss Army knife from her pocket and began sawing through their bonds. “Sorry it took so long. Edward’s got his goons watching the entrance. I think they’re keeping security away.” In no time at all, Nora had freed them.
As one, they turned their attention back to the fight. Edward’s left sleeve was covered with blood. Both were dripping with sweat. Silently, Terri began cheering. –Go, Methos, go Methos, go Methos!
Then, suddenly, it was over.
In what seemed the ultimate irony, Edward slipped on his own blood. He hit the concrete floor hard. His sword clattered free. Methos kicked it and it skidded away under a car.
“Get up,” he hissed.
Edward pushed himself into a sitting position. “It’s not over,” he said.
“Guess again,” said Methos. He drew back.
Terri shut her eyes, not wanting to watch what came next. There was a sickening thud. She opened her eyes. Edward’s body lay in a spreading pool of blood. His head lay several feet away. Terri swallowed hard.
Methos fell to his knees and waited. The gentle breeze picked up a bit. The dead body glowed for a moment. Then static electricity arced across, striking Methos dead in the center of the chest. He screamed.
Terri had seen Quickenings before. It was disconcerting to see a good friend on the receiving end of one. Even so, she felt that there was something wrong with this one.
Lightning raced across the concrete pavement, ran through the cars, and played havoc with the lighting. But this was normal. What Terri had not expected was the dark shadow, echoing every rippling burst of power. She felt that if there was a way to depict a black hole, this would be it. And Methos knelt within its event horizon.
The overhead lights failed and everything went dark. There were a few more sparks, and then it was over.
No one moved. At her side, she could hear the Doctor clear his throat. “Probably threw a circuit breaker.”
The lights came back on. “Definitely a circuit breaker,” said the Doctor. He sounded unimpressed, although Terri suspected it was a front.
She looked to Methos instead. He had collapsed into the pool of Edward’s blood. After a few seconds, he rose. He turned to face them. Terri shivered. One whole side of his face was covered in blood and it was matting his hair.
“Only one . . . ,” he said. “What rubbish.” He smiled. Terri didn’t like the smile. He began walking towards them.
“Ah, Methos,” said the Doctor, “don’t you think we should be making an exit about now?”
Methos laughed. There was something definitely wrong with his laugh. “It doesn’t matter, Doctor.” The Doctor backed away. A little unnerved, Terri and Nora did the same.
“I mean, you were always keen on avoiding trouble.” The Doctor pointed behind Methos.
The Immortal turned. Flashing red and blue lights were speeding around the parked cars. From the street below the plaintive wail of police sirens could be heard.
“Later,” said Methos, and ran to the edge of the ramp.
“Methos, no!” called Terri. But he disappeared over the guardrail. Terri ran up to it and poked her head over. There was a seventy-foot drop to the street below. It was completely empty.
The Doctor put his hand on Terri’s shoulder. “Let him go, Terri.” She turned away from the edge. She barely noticed the police cars screeching to a halt by the headless corpse. “He’ll be all right,” said the Doctor.
“Yeah,” she said. “Sure.”
But she didn’t believe it. Edward was dead. But something inside of her said the adventure was far from finished.