23

It was hungry. So hungry.

But now it knew other sensations.

Much less pleasurable sensations.

The Blob hurt

These bits of food… Somehow they had hurt it with the terrible waves of cold they sprayed at it.

Primordial fury swept through primitive synapses and it turned on its enemy and stopped it.

The hurt stopped, too, and the other sensations swept in.

It was hungry again.

Hungry.

First, Meg Penny heard the engine motors outside, and then the squeal of air brakes.

Then the roof of the Town Hall shook even harder, as though the monster had suffered some kind of paroxysm.

Then the shaking stopped.

The streamers of the Blob withdrew.

Meg could hear the creature slithering away.

It left a gaping hole in the front door. Detaching herself from her family, Meg ran out through the hole and onto the steps, still slimy and gooey.

She could see the snowmaker clearly now, spouting its load onto the cringing Blob.

And she could see who was in the cab.

Brian Flagg.

“Brian!” she cried, and she ran to help him.

“Meg!” called her mother behind her. “No!”

But the call did no good. She had to go and help Brian. That thing had to be stopped. Determination and pure anger swelled up in Meg Penny.

Yes, that monster had to be stopped!

But even as she ran toward the snowmaker, she watched helplessly as the Blob hurled itself at it. She watched as the vehicle was lifted up like a bobbing boat and torn asunder. She watched as the Blob poured over the cab, trying to get at Brian.

“No!” she cried. “No!”

Desperately she looked around the ground by her feet.

Wreckage everywhere.

But just a few yards away the half-dissolved body of a soldier attracted her attention.

The soldier still held his M16 rifle in a death grip. Attached to his back was a belt which held a package just like the one the colonel had ordered to be lobbed down into the manhole. What had he called it?

Oh, yes. A satchel charge.

First, Meg Penny peeled back the fingers of the dead man and pulled the rifle away. Then she detached the belt with the satchel charge and swung it over her shoulder.

It had always been just her tiny bit of flesh and willpower against that terrible mass of rolling putrefaction.

But now she had something to fight it with.

She ran around to where the creature was pouring over the cab. Nearby the detached tanks of water and liquid nitrogen lay. The Blob had not poured over these. They were no longer spraying snow at it.

Brian was in that cab. She had to distract the thing, right away.

She had watched the soldiers work their guns, and this one was already cocked. She held it up and fired at the monster.

A volley of bullets tore into the thing, ripping out divots of protoplasm. The weapon’s recoil pushed her back, but she recovered and gave the thing another round.

Then she moved over behind the tanks. She had an idea.

“Come on, you pile of shit!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “Come on and try to get me!”

She pressed the trigger and more bullets sprayed into the Blob.

The thing shifted its bulk. A part of it collected into something that could almost be a “head.” The “head” peered down through sightless eyes.

She let another burst rip through the roiling protoplasm, and then she scrambled up to the tanks lying on the ground by the cab.

It was working!

The Blob was releasing the snowmaker’s cab. It sensed easier prey—or had it indeed been maddened by the bullets and her challenge?

“You can do better than that!” she jeered. “C’mon!”

She emptied the chambers of the M16 and then threw the rifle itself at the advancing Blob.

Then she pulled the satchel charge up by its belt and looked around. Right there… between those two massive tanks of liquid nitrogen. Meg Penny was a skier, and she knew exactly what these things were, what incredible cold was locked away in the metal, under extreme pressure…

She wedged the satchel charge down between the tanks. Now, how had that soldier done it?

She looked up, gauging how much time she had before that rippling stuff rolled over these tanks.

“Come to Mama, fucker!” she whispered.

She looked back down at the satchel charge, and its dangling ripcord. Hopefully you had to adjust it to make it a short fuse, which meant this one was a long fuse.

She’d have time to get away, time to get Brian out of that cab.

She pulled the cord.

The satchel charge started ticking.

The Blob crawled toward her, like the upended contents of a witch’s cauldron.

Good enough! she thought, as she prepared to jump from the tanker to the ground.

But her boot snagged on a piece of twisted metal sticking out from the tanker’s hull. She could feel herself tripping, body hurtling out but leg staying in place. With a breathless whoosh she found herself swinging upside down from the tanks, dangling.

As she swayed back and forth, she could see her father and Moss running toward her from the Town Hall.

“Stay back!” she cried. “Stay back, it’s gonna blow!”

Above her she heard the ticking of the satchel charge.

She couldn’t pull herself up. This was it!

At least her death wouldn’t be meaningless, she thought. If that satchel charge blew, so would the tanks. And the tanks would—

But she didn’t give up. She strained up, trying to yank her foot from the boot.

Straining, straining…

Suddenly something caught her around the shoulders.

It twisted her, and it pulled her straight down, sliding her bloody foot out of the boot.

The Blob! It had gotten her with one of its tendrils… !

But as she tumbled to the ground, she quickly discovered that she wasn’t covered by slime.

She was covered by Brian Flagg.

But not for long.

“C’mon, get up!” he ordered as he got up and hoisted her to her feet.

She heard the satchel charge ticking, ticking, ticking…

The next thing she knew she was running.

Running for all she was worth, back toward Daddy and Moss and Town Hall and…

She ventured a look back.

The Blob had covered the tanker fully now, and it was advancing after them, rolling over the machine.

“Goddammit!” she said. “It’s supposed to blow up!”

But nothing happened!

And the monster was on the loose, coming after them!

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