My cheek stung.  Something had hit me so hard that my ears were ringing, but I had no time to stop and cry just yet.  I had to get Bort to the top of the U.S. Bank Tower before it was too late.  However, when I opened my eyes, still rubbing at my cheek, what I saw took my breath away—THE Erickoey.

“Dad?!” Bort squealed in excitement. “Dad!  You’re alive!”

“I…” Erickoey looked down at his hands and shook his head as he tried to sort his thoughts, “I’m sorry.  I don’t know what came over me…”

Erickoey was half-naked, wearing only a long, fluffy Santa hat and matching pants.  The pants, however, had gooey stains of brown that smelled sweet in the air.  And that’s when it hit me again, or, more specifically, that’s when Erickoey hit me… again and again and again.

“Erick!  Erickoey, stop!” I begged, just as I noticed something attached to the palm of Erickoey’s hand.  “Erick, what’s that in your hand?!”

Erick stopped and whipped his hands behind his back.  “Nuthink!” he beamed with delinquency.  “It’s not chocolate!”

“Of course!” I shouted in celebration and reached for Erick’s hands. “Lemme see, Erick.  What’s in your hand?!”

“Stop it!” Erick’s face went red with anger as he tried to swat me away with speed palms.  “Go away!” he demanded. “Leave me alone…”

“Bort!” I said in urgency. “Find a damp rag.  I think we can end this!”

Bort nodded and turned to look for a source of water, but when Erick realized that his son was escaping he became furious and tackled me to the ground—leaving me no other choice but to seek shelter within my shell, in hopes to avoid Erick’s gnawing, infectious teeth.

It didn’t take long for Erickoey to realize that he wouldn’t be able to penetrate me.  Not that it mattered; I wasn’t the objective—and Erick catapulted himself off of me, toward his son.

Bort had managed to find a fire hydrant but was at a loss on how to turn it on, and just as he was about to begin searching for a wrench or mallet, something grabbed him from behind.

“You’re minnnnnnnne!!!” cooed Erick as he grabbed his son by the shoulders and pulled him close.

“No, Dad, stop!” begged Bort, as his feet were lifted off the ground and his body was thrown up into the air until he found himself sitting on his father’s shoulders.  “Dad, you need help!”

But Erick wouldn’t listen.  Instead, he chomped down on another huge piece of chocolate and bolted toward the crowd of infected.

I emerged from my shell just in time to see Erick take Bort right through the doors of the U.S. Bank Tower—which seemed to be the headquarters of the Erickoeys.  But just before I could jump for joy at the supreme convenience of fate that had landed the end of the Erickoeys directly below where mine and Bort’s escape had been planned, my ears caught the repetition of chopping in the air above.

It was the helicopter, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, which meant that I only had a little over five minutes to wash and rid the chocolate from all of the infected, rescue Bort from his demented, chocolate-crazed father and get us both to the rooftop before we were trapped in L.A. for another night… a night I was certain we wouldn’t survive.

I bolted into action, armed with nothing more than blind courage, directly inside the belly of the beast.  In a matter of seconds, I was surrounded by the infected, and they were none-too-happy to see me… or, it was just the opposite!  Their toothy, chocolate-coated grins turned to face me and their sticky hands clawed at the air in my direction.  An echoing howl of cackles and groans soared through the air like demons spawned from hell and tackled me to the ground.

I was buried in seconds, below a mountain of infected Erickoeys, with no immediate means of escape… until I noticed that I’d been squashed against the cap of a manhole.  Using the randomness of the Erickoeys’ pulling arms, I tricked them into removing the cover for me and shimmied myself inside—along with a half dozen of the infected, who fell down with me.

Fortunately the sewer was filled knee-high with water, and the thick, chemically-tainted liquid cleansed the attackers almost immediately and relieved them of the Erickoey curse.  Having no time to waste, I stormed through the drains toward the U.S. Bank Tower and came up through a port in the basement.

Although the room was dark, I could tell that I was alone and easily made my way to the stairs.  Three flights later, I could already hear the demonic voice of The Erickoey.  He was talking to someone, who I assumed to be Bort, but his words didn’t make any sense.  They were muffled at times, but quickly replaced by angry screams.  My fear was that Erick was getting worse, that the chocolate had consumed him to the point of no return, so I didn’t stop to think and threw myself through the door.

“Stop right there!” I yelled in my best heroic voice.  “Release your son and we can all walk away from this.”

Erick whipped around to face me, angrier than I had ever seen him before.  “NEVAR!” he bellowed in a thunderous howl before turning back around to whoever he had been talking to.  “Comsie please.”

“Comsie?!” my voice whimpered in disappointment.  “But…”

But it wasn’t Comsie.  Not exactly.  It was a huge statue of the legendary man, standing tall in the entrance of the U.S. Bank Tower; a tribute to the man who brought the worlds together.

It was worse than I thought.  Erick was more than under the influence of chocolate.  He was consumed by it.  “Bort,” I said in a whisper, looking over at the boy who had been strapped to a chair.  “Bort, can you move?”

Bort shook his head and sniffled.  “No.”

“It’s okay,” I assured him.  “Get ready to run.  I just need…”  To my left I spotted an emergency fire hose, secured behind a thin encasement of safety glass.  “Aha!”

Hearing my celebratory bellow, Erickoey whipped around and charged toward me.  In that same instant, I dove for the fire hose and smashed the glass with the green of my head.  By the time I hit the ground, the hose was securely gripped in my hands, and Erickoey was almost right on top of me.

In one desperate motion, I turned the hose’s nozzle and aimed it at Bort’s father.  The water gushed out quicker than I was able to control the flow, and both Erick and myself were thrown back and forth, attached to the hose, as the water sprayed every nook and cranny of the room.

Erickoey began to cough and scream and gurgle and he fell to the ground unconscious.  I didn’t waste a single breath and rushed to Bort’s rescue, releasing him from his restraints and urged him toward the stairs.

“Come on!” I yelled for him to follow.  “The ‘copter won’t stick around much longer.”

Bort looked conflicted while looking from me to his father.  “But… will he be all right?”

I ran to his side and placed my hands on his shoulders.  “He will now.  I promise.  But we have to get you out of here so that we can drench the city and rid the world of the Erickoey Virus.

Bort nodded and threw himself against me, wrapping his arms around my neck and placed a great big, wet, sloppy kiss on my cheek.  “Thank you, TurtleBoy!  You’re my hero!”

And we both lived happily ever after… and Erick and the infected were banned from chocolate for life.

The end.

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