The final battle was taking place between Laurel and Death. The Horseman was having trouble keeping up with her rhythm, and had even transformed into its “hovering skeleton with a scythe and a cape” form, just because it was impractical to fight such an opponent on horseback. Each time the scythe and the katana met, powerful blasts destroyed the buildings around them.
Death flew high up, trying to escape from a powerful katana blow which brought down half a neighbourhood to ground level. Mary Clark rolled in her tomb, still feeling the destruction to the public property that those two powerful fighters were creating all around town. It had been a long time since the town had been brought down to ruins, and she had grown used to the comfort of not feeling the destruction.
Laurel jumped high up, and kept fighting against Death. The wind around started to get hot and to turn at great speeds, sending tornadoes in all directions. The sandstorms travelled at great speed, away from Fiery Creek, gigantic masses of destruction that made it feel like the Oklahoma Dust Bowl had been child’s play in comparison. Most of the survivors just observed the fighters from the hole that had been opened in the Library.
Meanwhile, Ba’al, Vee and Amanda had finished off the last beast in town, using the sword that they had retrieved from the Registry of Lost and Found. Another bright cross illuminated the place where the monster had been slain. Amanda looked at the dozens of crosses that had been left behind only in that street, and could not help asking.
“Ba’al, you might be a fallen angel, but you are an angel anyway…”
“Yes” he confirmed.
“So, do you know how long these crosses will take to disappear?” she pointed all around them.
“Never” Ba’al responded, in a tone that left no doubt.
“Oh. That might be an inconvenience” she commented.
Vee thought about it. “I mean, it does solve the problem of lighting the streets at night…”
“Guess you are right” she answered. “It looks… very festive” Amanda added, trying to look for the advantages of having hundreds of giant light crosses all around town.
“We will get used to it” Ba’al said.
As they started to clean themselves up, Anne appeared running from a small side street. She looked quite worn out, and dropped right next to Vee.
“Hey! Are you OK?” Vee asked, as he held her.
“I’m just… so tired” she responded. “The Horseman of War had been chasing me, and I finally got rid of him. And then…”
“You do look tired. Let me prepare a herbal tea” Amanda said.
They all sat down in a corner of the street. Amanda soon had all four teas ready – she was always ready for a herbal tea -, and gave one cup to each of them. Their energy levels started to recover.
“What’s in this?” Ba’al asked.
“It’s my special mix. It has some camomile, and several other herbs from my mother’s home town”.
“It has a very… African kind of flavour” Anne commented.
“My mother is from Des Moines, Iowa” Amanda responded.
“It’s OK, not like I would get offended that easily” Amanda smiled. “This herbal tea is good to recover the energy”.
“Anyway”, Ba’al interrupted, “you were about to say something”.
“Oh, yes, so I managed to get rid of the Horseman of War, but then Doris somehow appeared, which was weird, because I thought I had killed her back in an incident in the Library, and she started to stalk me, and I have been escaping from her ever since”.
“Wow, that’s a lot of stuff” Vee commented.
“It is” a voice commented above them.
They all looked up to see Doris standing next to them. For some reason, she looked more sinister than usual, but, at the same time, she also looked ditzier, like something was wrong with her.
“I need to make sure that you are all fulfilling the town regulations” she suddenly commented, in a grave tone.
Vee shot her in the forehead. The bullet went through her skull, perforating a whole from one side of the head to the other, and Doris dropped dead at the spot. They all breathed in a relieved way.
“Thank you” Ba’al managed to say.
Amanda noticed something. “I didn’t know that Doris had a tattoo. I thought that she had always been against such a thing, because ‘only criminals get them'”.
“True” Vee conceded, looking at the ‘2’ tattooed in Doris’ neck.
“Now that you mention it…”
All three of them looked at Anne.
“The one I ‘killed’ in the Library… I think she had a number, too. A 9, maybe, or a 6” you explained.
“What could this mean?” Vee wondered.
“I don’t know” Ba’al said. “All I know is that we still need to stop the Apocalypse. And now that we have the sword and we have Anne, we can do it”.
“What do you mean?” Amanda asked.
Vee held Anne tight. “I don’t like the tone of those words. If any harm…”
Anne interrupted softly. “It’s OK, Vee. Don’t worry. It’s because of my ‘ability'”.
Both Amanda and Vee were surprised to hear this. “What ability?” they asked.
“Anne is not a very proficient magic user. She does, however, have the ability to use the magic in other people and things. She can use the other person’s magic to help them, or against them. I discovered this when she burnt Paula Gwynn, the secretary of the Fiery Creek School for Adults. She had not used her own power, she used Paula’s power to burn her” Ba’al explained.
“So, how can we use that to stop the Apocalypse?” Vee asked.
“It’s simple, really. With the sword and my help, we can amplify her power. The Apocalypse is a process that has so much magical power that we will be able to stop it. Then Laurel can let Death go. If Death is destroyed, we are probably going to have a lot of problems” Ba’al continued.
Anne took the sword, and, as Ba’al indicated, she sunk it a few centimetres into the earth. She kept holding it and concentrated on the giant magical swirl that was destroying the multiverse. She started to reverse its power, and, with Ba’al’s help, soon started to feel how the magic decelerated and finally went back to a normal state. It had all ended.
Laurel felt it, and stopped attacking Death. She floated in the air, using a technique that she had learnt in an ancient Indian temple.
“Have you felt it?” she asked Death.
“What?” it asked, almost out of breath – which was quite an interesting thing to see in a being that was literally all bones.
“The Apocalypse has been averted. Someone has reversed the process”.
Death concentrated, and felt it. “How could this be?”
“I don’t know, either. But this means we don’t need to fight any more. I am not interested in destroying you, and you definitely cannot destroy me. So I’d recommend you leave”.
Death understood. It turned back into its Horseman form, and rode into the desert. It was soon not visible at all. Laurel went down to Main Square and joined a group of nuns that had gathered to drink the lemon juice from the Sacred tree.
Erin and John had been together for quite some time when she felt it. He was kissing her in the neck, and she suddenly stood up.
“John, the Apocalypse has somehow been stopped!” she said, happily.
“It’s OK” he said, kissing her once more. “But let’s stay here for a bit more”.
“She smiled. “Of course”. She kissed him in the lips.
Looking at the blue sky and the sun, Mamma Luca and A. looked at Fiery Creek, at all of the people that had gone through this test. They had been successful.
“What now?” A. asked.
“Let’s see what comes. But we need to do a lot of memory wiping and strange event reversal outside Fiery Creek” Mamma Luca answered.
“That’s going to take quite a while, so let’s get to it”.
Hundreds of kilometres above them, the International Space Station got hijacked by an alien ship.