Hellboy, a bloodred, cloven-hoofed demon raised by the United States government, is a top field agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. He questions the unknown -- then beats it into submission.
Religious artifacts from every faith are disappearing without a trace. The identity of the perpetrator is a complete mystery until Hellboy and Liz Sherman -- acting on an unlikely tip from a ghost -- foil a museum heist attempted by crude, robotic constructs inhabited by human spirits.
One of these freed human spirits offers to help Hellboy track down those who imprisoned him: a fanatical order of psychics obsessed with creating a new messiah, one that will bring about a new stage of evolution for mankind -- whether mankind is willing or not. Now only Hellboy and his colleagues stand between a vulnerable humanity and an evil, vengeful god....
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July 25, 2006
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Excerpt from The God Machine by Thomas E. Sniegoski
Now. December, 1995
This guy seems kinda squirrelly, Hellboy thought, as he entered the home of Donald Kramer. Or maybe it was just the fact that a seven-foot-tall, red-skinned demon dressed in a trench coat and packing some serious heat was standing in the guy's foyer. Nah, that's not it. Kramer just seemed like one of those types.
The man's hands hadn't stopped moving; touching his face, running his fingers through his hair, as he explained why he'd called in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
"One day it was there in the backyard like it always was," he said with a shrug and a twitch. "And then it was gone." Kramer gnawed at one of his fingernails like he hadn't eaten in a week.
Hellboy glanced at the clipboard in his hand. "We are talking about a rock, right?"
The man nodded eagerly. "Yes, a boulder. Been there forever. It separated my property from the woods behind it."
Alarm bells had gone off at the BPRD headquarters in Fairfield when some desk jockey at the Plymouth, Massachusetts, Police Department keyed Kramer's case into their computers. The Bureau had a deal with most of the police departments in the U.S., and hundreds of locations abroad; if anything out of the ordinary was reported, it raised a flag and a copy of the file was sent to the BPRD. Most of the stuff was junk, but every once in a while something piqued their curiosity. Lately, that had been happening more often than usual. The brain trust at the BPRD had noticed a pattern. Things were being reported missing -- odd things.
The BPRD didn't like patterns.
"Was there anything unusual about this boulder?" Hellboy asked.
"No," Kramer answered sharply. "It was just a rock -- a big rock. Why?"
Hellboy scratched the back of his head, unsure how to explain. This particular "big rock" had been cataloged in the Bureau's informational database as an object of religious significance, something worshipped by a primitive people long ago. The cheat sheet Hellboy had on his clipboard didn't give him much more information than that, but he knew that it was only the latest in a long list of similar items that had disappeared throughout the region over the past month or so.
"No reason." Hellboy shrugged his large shoulders. "Just covering all the bases." He placed the clipboard under his arm. "Can I take a look at the scene of the crime?"
A twitch had developed at the corner of Kramer's right eye. "A crime? Do you think a crime's been committed?"
Hellboy sighed. "It's just an expression. So can I take a look?"
"Certainly," the man replied after breathing a sigh of relief. "It's through here." He turned toward a room behind him.
Yep, definitely squirrelly.
Kramer led Hellboy into a room filled with books, floor to ceiling, on shelves and in piles on the floor.
"Do a lot of reading, huh?" Hellboy was careful not to disturb any of the precariously balanced stacks.
The man stopped halfway across the room and turned. "Yes, yes I do. For my work. I'm a writer. This is my reference library."
From the corner of his eye, Hellboy saw something dart around one of the piles to disappear behind a heavy-looking, floor-to-ceiling bookcase. It was bigger than a mouse, maybe a rat, but he couldn't be sure.
"Do you read much, Mister...Boy?"
Hellboy looked quickly back at Kramer to find the man glaring at the bookcase. He had seen it as well.
"Not as much as I'd like. I read a little Louis L'Amour, some Spillane, and I really like that Mc-Murtry guy."