Chapter 55: The Body Snatcher
Marko had struggled to his feet, ignoring the nauseating wooziness making his head spin. Desperation forced him to power through the pain. He had to help the physician. The demon could not be allowed to jump onto a living body. If it stayed inside the seeker’s body, then rigor mortis would set in and slow it down. Marko had no idea whether or not the physician believed in a higher power. If he did and kept his faith, then the strength of that conviction would shield the physician.
Before Marko could reach them, the struggle had ceased and the demon quickly took possession of the physician. He skidded to a stop, expecting the demon to leap up and charge at him. Instead, it turned and fled. Marko was bewildered. What was the damn thing doing? The vengeful nature of demons made them pretty single-minded.
Marko had just blocked its efforts to get into the antiquities vault. He had mentally prepared himself for a knock down drag out fight over the vault. Surely the demon had not just given up on gaining access to the vault.
So why had the damn thing just ran in the opposite direction? Marko puzzled over it, as he pursued the creature. It suddenly occurred to him that the demon must have probed the physician’s mind and discovered an alternative way to gain access to the vault. What could that be? Unable to match the demon’s superhuman speed, Marko reached the main hallway and there was no sign of the physician.
He was searching rooms, when racing footsteps sounded from the other end of the hall. Marko turned in time to see anxious Doorkeepers rushing towards him with Janet and Andrea in tow. They stopped running, at the sight of the seeker’s body sprawled on the floor, in the hall leading to the vault. Marko trotted over to them.
“The demon attacked the physician and took possession of his body. I think the man had keys on him. To what areas would the physician’s keys grant access? More importantly, does the physician know the code to the security system? Whatever he knows that demon knows now.”
Everyone looked expectantly at Interim Defense Director Harold Barnes. It was obvious from the wide-eyed expression on his face that he didn’t know. After an awkward silence, he nervously cleared his throat.
“Well let me see, I think as an essential worker, he does have a security system access code. There are three: one for the steel gates protecting the windows and entrances, one to the perimeter electromagnetic force field and one for the electromagnetic force field protecting the antiquities vault.”
“So which one does he have,” demanded Marko impatiently.
“Don’t rush me. Um…I believe he only knows the code for the perimeter force field. So, we should be fine. No one is getting through those steel gates and the vault will still be secure.”
“What? We are up against a practitioner of the dark arts! What makes you think the only way him and his minions can get in is through a door? There is a demon running around loose in here wearing the physician’s body. That thing sure as hell didn’t come walking in through the front door!”
“What are you implying?”
“I’m not implying anything. I am trying to make you understand that if that perimeter force field gets shut off, then we are sitting ducks! Mukesh and his army will be free to open portals all over the building.”
“That makes no sense. The antiquities vault is still impenetrable behind its own force field. Mukesh used to be second in command here, so I’m sure he knows that. What’s the point in returning, if they still can’t breach the vault?”
“Think about it Harold, Mukesh would also know all the vulnerabilities in the security system. As with anything man-made, there are bound to be imperfections in the mechanism powering vault’s force field. Do you understand what I’m saying? Pressure or force can be applied to those weak points, which might cause the entire thing to shut down. Mukesh is a powerful warlock. How long do you think it would take him to short circuit or blast his way through it? Hell, that low level demon nearly blew the damn thing apart a few minutes ago!”
The dim overhead lights suddenly blazed brighter. The group looked up at the ceiling and then one another, to confirm that they hadn’t imagined it. Eyes closed, Marko pressed his fingers to the bridge if his nose. He spoke withot opening them.
“Please tell me that doesn’t mean what I think it means,” he said.
“I think someone just shut off the perimeter electromagnetic force field,” Harold gulped.
“How can you tell,” asked Andrea.
“The force fields require a lot of energy. When you shut one of them off, that power surges back into less essential systems like the lighting.”
“Then you’d better get all your spell weavers down here to protect the vault. We are about to be under siege. Oh shit, something just occurred to me. Is one of your people in the security office right now”, asked Marko.
“Yes, Jason stayed behind to watch the security cameras. Why,” Harold asked looking confused.
“Think about it man! You just said the physician does not have access to the security code that disables the force field for the antiquities vault.”
“I still don’t see what you’re getting at,” Harold persisted.
“That demon is a body snatcher. As a member of your security team, doesn’t Jason know all of the security codes?”
A look of abject horror dawned on Harold’s face, as Marko’s words sank in. At once, everyone else also came to the same frightening realization. Wordlessly, they sprinted for the security office.