24

Brian Flagg woke up.

The first thing he realized was that he was in pain. Not just his aching leg, which he’d hurt in his bike spill.

No, his head hurt, real bad. He could feel the blood seeping out, dripping down his face.

And then Brian remembered. He remembered where he was, and what was crushing in upon him.

He looked up, expecting the gunk to spill in on him at any moment, to engulf him, to fill his mouth and his nose and his ears with burning acid, to burn away his eyes…

But there was nothing outside the windows. Just a residue of slime.

He didn’t wait a moment. He propelled himself against the door, hitting the handle.

The door opened, and Brian Flagg spilled out of the up-side-down cab.

It took a moment to collect himself, but as soon as he had, he looked around. Immediately saw the mountainous creature, pouring across the tanker.

And there, hanging from the tanker, her boot caught, was Meg Penny.

From the tanker there came a loud ticking sound.

Not sparing any time even to think, he ran to Meg and he jumped up and grabbed her, pulling her down.

They hit the ground, and he urged her on, and they ran, and ran and ran some more.

And then Meg stopped.

And she said something about the tanker blowing up.

“What’s happening?” she said. “I don’t understand. It was ticking… the satchel charge!”

“We gotta get away from that thing, now.”

“I’m telling you,” said Meg. “It’s—”

And just as Brian turned to check the Blob’s advance, the rumbling started.

He wasn’t sure if the spark came first, or the rumble, but it didn’t take long before the light that ignited the wavery form of the tanker turned into a bigger light, a very bright light that thrust out and up…

Turning into a huge explosion.

The explosion geysered up, scattering bits and shreds of the Blob’s protoplasm.

A ground-ripping blast of frost, water, and ice waved over him and Meg, knocking them off their feet and onto the pavement.

Beyond them an icy cloud blossomed, rising into the air.

And then bits and pieces rained backed down, splattering onto the ground, tinkling and cracking. Pieces of the Blob, turned into chunks of crystalline matter.

The thing had been frozen.

Brian, lying dazed in a scatter of frost and icy water, was only dimly aware of this, but he did hear Meg’s voice calling. “Brian! Brian?”

Then he realized that there were people gathered all around them, helping them up.

“Whoa,” said Brian Flagg, looking at the carnage of ice that the monster had been reduced to. “What a rush!”

“Brian!” Suddenly Meg Penny was all over him.

Which he didn’t mind at all. His arms folded around her and his lips found hers and they had a nice long kiss.

The thing was dead. They’d defeated it.

Then Brian looked up. He felt something on his head, looked up, and saw what was coming down.

Little tumbling flakes of white stuff!

“Hey, man,” said Moss, patting him on the shoulder. “Told you we’d get snow.” The black man looked up and smiled. “You gotta have faith!”

Moss wandered over to have a look at the wreckage of the snowmaker. Brian watched as the mechanic kicked a tire.

“I wonder if I’m covered for this sort of thing!” he called back.

Brian grinned. “I think you’ve got plenty of witnesses!”

He looked around at the people coming out of Town Hall. All the people who were still alive! Yes, that thing had killed some, but most were still alive and healthy.

“You saved us, Brian,” said Meg.

“I had a lot of help,” said Brian, but still he felt good. Real good.

Everyone was looking at him, patting him on the back and releasing their fears and pent-up emotions with tears and laughs.

“Gee,” he said. “I guess it’s no more Mr. Bad Guy, huh?”

Meg Penny smiled at him. “No, you’ve spilled your little secret, Brian Flagg. Everyone knows now. Especially me.”

A fireman interrupted their conversation, barging through the crowd.

“Awright, people!” he said. “We’ve got four hours till the sun comes up! Let’s get a bulldozer and a dump truck and get this thing over to the icehouse.”

But Meg was pulling him away from the crowd.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked.

“You must be tired! You’ve done your bit, Brian. You need rest!” she said.

“Uh-uh, kiddo.” He pointed down at the ground, at the bits of the Blob scattered all over. “I’m a part of this town now. And I’m gonna help haul this thing where it won’t do any more harm!”

She looked at him with a funny expression.

“But, Brian. You always were part of the town. You just didn’t feel like you belonged.”

He mulled that over for a moment. “Well, guess I’m stuck for a while now, anyway. Bike’s dead.”

She smiled. “That would be nice.”

They kissed again and then turned and pitched in to help clear up the mess.

Maybe Moss could use some regular part-time help.

Yeah, thought Brian Flagg. Maybe he’d stick around Morgan City after all.

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