22

“It can’t stand the cold!”

Meg’s words echoed in Brian Flagg’s mind.

But he’d already figured it out. He knew it as soon as he saw those pseudopods retreat under the spray of C02, as Meg Penny extinguished the fire on the Reverend Meeker.

Cold! Of course! He’d been so stupid.

When they’d been in the freezer, and the tentacles of the monster had stopped short, withdrawing back through the door cracks—that had been what had stopped the creature! Subzero temperature!

Now, with the thing on the surface, rolling around like an unanchored mountain, there was only one way to stop it, and that was with cold.

There was a big icehouse here in Morgan City. But no way could he convince that monster to come along and get inside it. No, the cold was going to have to be brought to the creature.

And Brian Flagg was going to be the guy to do it!

He ran through the night with surprising speed and energy considering how much he’d already gone through that evening. He ran down the street to Moss’s Repair Shop, praying that the door wasn’t locked.

The door was locked.

Shit!

Behind him he heard the gunfire and the screams and the roar of people running from the advancing monster.

“Shit!” he cried. The side door of the shop had a sectioned, framed window. Brian Flagg smashed his fist through the glass nearest the door. Shattered glass tinkled into the darkness.

Brian reached in, felt for the knob, unlocked the door, and burst through.

His hand was bleeding, but he didn’t notice.

Cold. Cold. COLD!

The word throbbed through his head as he ran into the shop, where the hulking shadows of machines lurked.

He hoped that Moss had gotten around to fixing the thing!

Brian fumbled for the light switch.

No light. Electricity gone.

But enough light was coming through the garage-door windows to make out where the cabs were. Brian ran to the machine and clambered into the cab. He felt around in the darkness, praying that—

Yes! His fingers touched the key, already slotted into the ignition.

“Okay, buddy. You gotta work!”

He turned the key.

The engine whined, and died.

Shit!

No, this was unacceptable! He tried again.

The engine growled like a leashed mountain lion. Growled and growled, turning over but only on the power of the battery and—

Brian stepped on the accelerator.

The engine roared into life.

He buckled the safety harness into place, turned the cab lights and the headlights on, and then fumbled with the emergency brake.

Brake off, he downshifted the gear, brought up the clutch.

The mighty machine lurched forward.

There was no time to figure out how to unlock the front garage doors, so Brian Flagg slammed the Indian Summit snowmaker right through them.

Glass broke and wood shattered as the door exploded outward. Stepping up the speed, Brian Flagg hurled the machine into the night. There were parked cars in front of him, but he paid them no mind. The snowmaker blasted through them, sending them careening away like tenpins struck with a bowling ball.

The big-wheeled machine roared onward, its enormous tractor tires bouncing across the bumpy pavement. The headlights picked up the ghastly carnage wreaked by the thing—twisted autos, pieces of bodies, slime. Brian tried to ignore it as he directed the snowmaker up the street.

Town Hall, he thought. They must have run for cover to Town Hall.

He headed in that direction.

He could see it from two blocks away, and it was grotesque.

The Blob was attached to the Town Hall like a throbbing parasite, roiling and shaking as it tried to crush the building.

Meg was in that building.

Meg and the others.

As he headed toward the creature, Brian looked down to the controls of the snowmaker. He’d worked on one of these things before with Moss, and the dude had shown him what lever did what, but he’d never actually used the machine before.

But he knew how it worked.

On top of the cab was a big funnel-like chute that dispensed the snow, while the snowmaking apparatus was housed on the flatbed back of the truck. This included big metal water tanks, and a grouping of tanks of liquid nitrogen that looked like airplane bombs. A central machine siphoned measured quantities of both through its pipes, and then blew out the resulting mixture—man-made snow—from the large blower hooked onto the front.

Brian brought the machine right up to the Blob and stopped it, its air brakes hissing.

The headlights shone through the red-porridge-and-saliva body of the monstrosity. Brian could smell it, and he had to control his revulsion.

He turned on the snowmaker.

With a great gurgling and churning sound the machine set to work immediately. After a growl and a lurch the chute above the cab began to spit out a lovely, high arc of snow that burst up through the night and landed squarely on the monster.

Behind Brian, mist from the machine rose up into the night air. He turned the controls up to full, and a heftier dollop of new snow burst up, splattering onto the Blob.

The creature trembled. The creature shook. Its hold on the Town Hall had seemed unbreakable, but now the Blob streamed back and away, as though in terrible pain, turning to confront this new and hurtful enemy.

Brian could see that waves of steam rose up from the Blob wherever snow touched it. Some kind of chemical reaction was going on. It was working! He kept the snow blowing. He was going to bury this thing in snow, bury it until it was covered with this beautiful white stuff, and then he, Brian Flagg, was going to strap on skis and slalom the bastard!

But then the Blob, with a speed that belied its heft, rippled away from the torrent of snow.

It moved toward its attacker, rolling faster and faster.

“Shit,” said Brian. “Okay, you want to eat me? Eat me! But you’re gonna have to eat five tons of snow first!”

Snow still spouting, he shifted the engine into gear and popped the clutch.

He turned the wheel so that the vehicle was heading straight for the cannonballing monster.

His repositioning put the snow dead center back onto the Blob, and the creature didn’t like it, not at all. With soundless, quivering fury, it struck forward at the machine, lifting it up and hurling the truck and the cab and Brian into the air, turning them over like a child’s toy.

Brian could feel the cab disengaging from the rest of the snowmaker, ripped away from the snow chute and the tanks of water and liquid nitrogen, and skidding off onto the pavement.

The cab spun over, and the snow stopped.

Brian Flagg found himself upside down. Desperately he tried to unbuckle the belt. He could see the stuff of the monster rolling around him like steaming, half-solid sewage.

He heard the metal groan as the monster squeezed.

As the stuff of the creature rolled past the window, Brian could also hear it slipping over above him.

As he hung there, desperately working at the latch to the seat belt, he saw half-digested bodies float by.

Oh, jeez! There was Deputy Briggs!

And one of the soldiers, in one of the plastic suits.

Skeleton fingers clacked onto the glass as spiderwebs of cracks appeared… death, knock knock knocking to get in.

The belt unlatched.

He dropped down to the ceiling of the cab, struggling to get up and onto his feet.

The cab squealed, as though caught in a crusher.

But then, just as he got himself upright, a length of bare metal crunched in, cracking him across the forehead.

Brian Flagg fell, unconscious, as the Blob squeezed on the cab of the snowmaker, pushing to get at this new bit of food.

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