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Dark Carnival Session One Part 3 - Madam Zarah and a Missing Child

Posted by Max_Writer , in Call of Cthulhu, Campaign Log 28 January 2017 · 298 views

* * *

 

Madame Zarah’s Fortune-Telling Booth was a small cottage with brightly colored signs outside for palm reading, tea reading, and fortune-telling of every kind. The four entered and found several curtains hanging down within, dividing the cottage up into several areas. It was heavy with the smell of incense and the odor of fried onions and everything from the wallpaper to curtains was of the most garish and gaudy designs imaginable.

 

Madame Zarah sat behind a small table with a silk cloth covering something round upon it, smoking a cigarette which she stubbed out when she saw them. She wore brightly-colored clothing like that of a gypsy and a cloth was pulled over her black hair. She appeared to be middle aged. Miss Edington immediately became suspicious of her.

 

“Come in!” Madame Zarah said in a thick Eastern European accent. “Come in! Come. I will tell the future.”

 

She stood up behind the tiny table.

 

“I will tell you your loves and your hates and the things that will happen to you soon,” she said. “Please come in. Come in!”

 

She looked over the four.

 

“Oh, so many of you,” she said. “I see you are searching for something. I see it. You are looking for answers. I can provide you with these answers. Who wants to go first?”

 

Miss Edington shrugged and sat down at the table. Madame Zarah sat down in front of her.

 

“So, my dear,” she said. “What do you wish? Do you wish for me to read your palm or look in to the crystal. Or I could read the tea leaves. There are many ways to see the future.”

 

“Let’s do tea leaves,” Miss Edington said.

 

“Very well,” Madame Zarah said.

 

She pushed aside a curtain, where a teapot was sitting on a camp stove. She took the teapot and poured Miss Edington the tiniest drop of tea. She told the woman not to drink the last drop and handed her the cup. Miss Edington took the tiny sip offered, leaving the last of it. She handed it back to Madame Zarah, who peered into it.

 

“Oh,” she said with a smile. “I see a gentleman in your future.”

 

“Of course you do,” Miss Edington said.

 

“But to know more, I will need a ticket.”

 

Miss Edington handed her a ticket.

 

“He is a handsome man,” Madame Zarah said. “He’s … he’s very rich. There is already love blooming in his heart for you. You already know this man. Is there a man you already know? A very rich man? Handsome man?”

 

“Perhaps,” Miss Edington said.

 

“Perhaps. I see he is … he is not from around here. Perhaps he is from the south. From very far away. As you can see from the way the tea leaves have moved in the cup, he will be coming for you very soon. But there’s nothing to be afraid of, because he will take you away from terrible things.”

 

“Terrible things?”

 

“Ah. I see that you have financial difficulties.”

 

Miss Edington stood and left.

 

“Well thank you so much for coming,” Madame Zarah called after her.

 

Virgil Thomas followed the young woman out. Madame Zarah put the cup aside.

 

“Ah, this handsome couple, I see,” she said to Bricker and Miss Fairfield. “Do you want for me to read the future of both of you together.”

 

Bricker gave Miss Fairfield a little nudge.

 

“You go ahead,” he said to her.

 

“The crystal or the tea leaves or perhaps you would like me to read your palm,” Madame Zarah said.

 

“The palm,” Miss Fairfield said.

 

She sat in front of the woman, who took her hand.

 

“This is your lifeline,” Madame Zarah said, pointing out one of the lines on her palm. “This is your death line. But I’ll need a ticket for more than that.”

 

She got a ticket.

 

“I see great wealth in your future and surprises,” she told her. “A surprise that you will … a very pleasant surprise, of course, and someone who will take you away from all the terrible things.”

 

“Were you here on Saturday?” Miss Fairfield asked.

 

“Wha?” Madame Zarah said, losing her accent for a moment. “What? I mean Vhat? Of course. Madame Zarah is here every day. I am always here. I see and I know the things that mere mortals can never know.”

 

“So, obviously you knew about the incident before it even happened.”

 

“Oh, you’re talking about the poor man who had his arm ripped off!”

 

“Uh-huh.”

 

“Yes. I foresaw that would happen. But some things are set. Some fates you cannot change, no matter how hard you try. I tried to find him! I tried to warm him. But it was too late!”

 

She put her hand to her forehead.

 

“I will take it to my grave that I was not in time,” she went on. “But sometimes even being able to see with the third sight … second sight … does not allow you to know everything that will come to pass.”

 

She gave a knowledgeable nod to the woman.

 

“What about his lady, Lucy Pringle?” Miss Fairfield asked.

 

“I … I see nothing,” Madame Zarah said. “I am afraid that she’s gone forever.”

 

She covered her eyes with her hands.

 

“She was taken by whomever took his arm,” she said. “I see … terrible men. I see many things.”

 

She held out her hand

 

“Ticket,” she said.

 

Miss Fairfield put another ticket into it.

 

“I see terrible things. Madmen! Crazed lunatics. They come to the cemetery to find more than just the dead …”

 

Miss Fairfield looked at her.

 

“That’s the living,” she said.

 

Madame Zarah looked confused for a moment.

 

“Yes,” she said. “Yes. The living. They come to the cemetery and prey upon the living. But I do not sense their presence now. Perhaps they have gone away. Or they are hiding. Or perhaps … they have a mind that is strong enough to block even … Madame Zarah!”

 

She had moved her hands in front of her face again at the end put pulled them slowly and dramatically to either side as she spoke her own name.

 

“Do you know where they’re from?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“I see … they are … both victims are from Providence,” Madame Zarah said.

 

“No, not the victims.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“The men.”

 

“Oh! The men. I see … I see … dark hills, terrible trees. They are from a place where they can hide away.”

 

She smiled then.

 

“But you are meant for more romantic things,” she said.

 

Miss Fairfield stood up and walked away, standing near the door.

 

“What of you, my friend?” Madame Zarah said, turning to Bricker.

 

He handed her a ticket and sat down in front of the table, indicating the covered object. Madame Zarah took the purple piece of silk with lavender fringe off the object, which proved to be a large crystal ball. She leaned forward and looked into it. Light started to glow from the crystal itself. She gasped.

 

“Ooo!” she said. “The crystal. Gaze deeply into the crystal. Perhaps you will see more than Madame Zarah.”

 

She gazed into the crystal ball.

 

“I see … I see … money!” she said. “I see you coming into money in your future. I … there is a man with money. He wants to give the money to you. And with money, you will be able to woo someone special to you …”

 

Bricker frowned.

 

“… who you don’t like that much, but you’ll be able to woo her,” Madame Zarah went on. “You will be able to woo her, if you so desire. I see many … don’t you see it? Look! See, look. The money! I see money! It is … it is a grand amount. And you will be able to … move away … to … to the place you are from. You will be able to go back home. Across the sea! To Australia!”

 

Bricker frowned. He was from England. He didn’t see anything in the crystal aside from a strange glow. He thanked her and left the cottage. As he left, he saw a flash of light behind him and looked back to see Madame Zarah lighting a cigarette. They found Miss Edington standing outside, smoking a cigarette in a long filter herself. She looked displeased.

 

“Australia,” Bricker snorted.

 

“She said you from Australia?” Miss Edington asked. “Is that what happened?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Wow.”

 

* * *

 

Johnson went to get his fortune told but Bricker, Miss Fairfield, and Miss Edington warned him not to waste his time. They all waited for Ingerton, who arrived a couple of minutes later.

 

“So, did my presence really spoil the stew there, buddy?” Johnson asked.

 

“A little bit,” Ingerton said, putting his fingers close together.

 

“So, you got something out of him, then, once I was gone?”

 

“Yes. It seems that if something were to happen, they would have covered it up.”

 

“Whoa!”

 

“‘Cause he takes care of his own. Yes.”

 

“Wow. You know, I didn’t even have the slightest hint of that one.”

 

After a short discussion, they decided to eat at the North Star Restaurant, which stood on the pier out over the Seekonk River.

 

As they walked there, Ingerton spotted the old negro who had been cleaning out the cages at the Grand Menagerie. He had a long spike-topped staff and a burlap sack and wandered by, picking up assorted trash with the stick. He would stab the trash and put it into the burlap bag.

 

“I’ll meet you all at the North Star,” Ingerton said.

 

They went on towards the pier while he approached the man.

 

“Hello, sir,” Ingerton said to him. “How are you today.”

 

“Yassir,” the negro said. “Can I help you?”

 

“I noticed you were in the menagerie earlier.”

 

“I clean up there. Feed the animals. Yeah.”

 

“Do you know what that cellar may be used for?”

 

“The power plant down dere.”

 

“Power plant?”

 

“Yeah. Dere’s some boilers down dere. They generate steam. They generate power. So we don’t hafta use the city power. It don’t run out here nohow.”

 

“Oh. Thank you very much Mr. …?”

 

“Old Billy. I’m Old Billy.”

 

“Thank you, Billy.”

 

“Mmm-hmm.”

 

Ingerton handed the man a dollar bill. The man looked at it, crumpled it up, and tucked it into his pants pocket, never taking his eyes off Ingerton. Then he got back to his work. Ingerton walked away but, when he looked back, he saw Old Billy still at his work, but also still watching Ingerton. The man would stab a piece of litter, still staring at Ingerton, and then deposit it in the bag. Then he stabbed another piece of litter while still staring at the man.

 

I confused him, I think, Ingerton thought.

 

* * *

 

“Ah! Ladies and gentlemen! Ladies and gentlemen!” a voice called to the others as they passed the pavilion, startling Miss Edington, who let out a little shriek. “Come see the Great Hercules show off his strongman act on the fairway! On the fairway! In five minutes! Five minutes! Oh yes!”

 

Miss Edington turned to see the pitchman, who had a tiny, black waxed mustache and wild eyes. He wore a bright red jacket and a top hat. He was also standing very close to her. He had a kind of a sinister air about him and stood far too close, almost as if he delighted in her discomfort.

 

“Come and join!” the man went on, his voice somewhat high-pitched and nasal. “Come and see Hercules! Hercules! He bends bars! It’s a wonderful show! Come and see!”

 

He moved off to another group of people.

 

There were numerous rental booths, most of them filled, along the pier leading out to the restaurant, used by the local populace to sell their wares. The restaurant itself was a nice place with tables both inside the building and on the pier in front of it. The wall between the dining room and the kitchen had a window where the waitresses gave the orders and they could see a man with a mustache and a paper hat working back there, as well as a negro.

 

They got a table. The dishes most prominent were the fresh, river-caught fish from the Seekonk and “Our Famous New Orleans Fried Chicken.”

 

Virgil Thomas rolled his eyes.

 

“I been to New Orleans,” he said. “And I bet this ain’t no fried chicken from New Orleans.”

 

They had a harried waitress who was an older woman in her late 50s, most likely. She continually sang under her breath in a raspy off-key. She was heavyset and had short hair and a name tag that read “Erma.”

 

Ingerton arrived a few minutes later and sat down at the table. They all ordered and, while they ate, discussed what they had seen in the carnival. The food was quite good, actually, and the portions were large. Miss Edington wanted to go to the House of Freaks to see the tentacle the others had seen. Ingerton pointed out that Old Billy seemed fishy. He was also of the opinion that after going to the House of Freaks, they should visit young Kent Howard in the hospital. He also thought they should investigate the amusement park at night. Miss Fairfield pointed out the man who ran the carousel at night was not there.

 

They headed out after they had eaten. Miss Fairfield went to ride the carousel. Only Johnson and Miss Edington went into the strange-smelling building. The two examined the “What is It?” tentacle as best they could through the glass. They could not see the one end of the tentacle as it was down in the liquid so they couldn’t tell if it was torn or cut. Miss Edington stood there, looking at it, for at least two minutes but it didn’t move at all. She was certain it was dead.

 

They discussed whether or not someone could answer any questions about it. Johnson noted it was strange that she had found the statuette and the tentacle looked like it belonged to something similar. A child ran by and yelled “Yea!” which was somewhat disturbing.

 

“It is kind of curious that we’re here investigating a man that lost an appendage … and here we find an appendage,” Johnson said.

 

Miss Edington’s jaw dropped.

 

“I guess unless we break that glass, that’s all we’re going to see,” Johnson said.

 

He tried to see how solid the glass was but was unsure. Miss Edington noticed him studying it.

 

“What are you trying to plan?” she asked.

 

“Well … if it comes to it …” he said. “Hopefully it won’t.”

 

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? You’re so cryptic.”

 

She walked out of the building. He followed her and they met the others outside.

 

Ingerton wanted them to go to the hospital and Johnson suggested they might want to leave someone behind in case anything happened. Miss Edington went to the man taking tickets for the House of Freaks but the man who had been there before was gone and she saw it was the creepy barker who had startled her before dinner.

 

“Come, one and all, to the House of Freaks!” he called out. “See the things that nature didn’t mean to survive! Come in! Come in! Come in!”

 

“May I ask you a question … about this … whole attraction?” Miss Edington asked the man.

 

He leered at her and smiled. It was not a pleasant smile.

 

“Of course!” he said loudly. “It is a magnificent attraction! Come in! Come in!”

 

He put a hand on her shoulder and leaned in close.

 

“Come in!” he muttered. “Come in!”

 

“I’ve already been through,” she said. “I wanted to ask about one of the little exhibits.”

 

“Oh! They’re a mystery to us all, I’m afraid. A mystery! Come and see the great mysteries of the ages!”

 

“Anyway, I would like to know how long this thing, that ‘What is It?’ exhibit, has been here.”

 

“No one knows! No one knows what the thing is! No one even knows how long it’s been here!”

 

“I know nobody knows what it is.”

 

“Why, they say it merely appeared in the House of Freaks one day … some years ago! No one knew where it came from!”

 

She walked away.

 

“No one knows where it comes from!” he raised his voice. “Come see the thing that no one knows where it comes from!”

 

She went over to the others.

 

“I can’t get a damned thing out of these people,” she said.

 

They decided to go to the hospital and as they walked to Miss Edington’s white Packard Sedan, Bricker suggested some of them stay at the carnival. Miss Edington pointed out they could fit everyone in her motorcar if people were very chummy in the backseat. Bricker said he’d stay at the carnival. Miss Edington gave him her remaining two tickets. The others headed into town.

 

* * *

 

When they arrived at Rhode Island Hospital, they found they had just missed visiting hours. The nurse at the desk was very apologetic.

 

“You’ll have to come back tomorrow,” she said. “Are you members of his family?”

 

She told them the visiting hours of the hospital which were from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. She asked for the relative to put his name on a clipboard and Johnson took it. He wrote Joel Howard on the clipboard with a smile. She reminded him of the visiting hours once again.

 

“You still might not be able to see him,” she noted. “He’s in very bad condition. He’s still unconscious.”

 

They left the hospital, heading back to the carnival.

 

* * *

 

Bricker learned that dancing started at the pavilion at 7 p.m. and the Star Studded Show at the Parisian Theatre was at 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. The Red Hot Harem Dance Show was at the Parisian Theatre at 10 p.m. He also heard that Emmanuelle Vasconcellos Amazing Trick Riding was on the fairway at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m.

 

He rode the roller coaster a couple of times and bought hot chestnuts while he waited for the others.

 

* * *

 

It was nearly 6 p.m. before the others returned to the carnival. More people were in the park since it had gotten dark. They looked for Bricker but couldn’t find the man. Miss Edington spent some time at the Net a Goldfish booth and managed to catch a goldfish in two tries. She was given a plastic bag filled with water and the fish.

 

Miss Fairfield suggested meeting at the pony rides to examine the cemetery around 8 p.m.

 

Ingerton found Bricker by the North Star Pavilion where a band was playing and people were dancing.

 

* * *

 

Miss Fairfield, Miss Edington, and Johnson went to the carousel to try to talk to the man who worked there at night.

 

The man running the carousel was fairly good-looking, middle aged, and wore a red shirt and bandana. A crowbar was tucked in his belt and he had a faraway look in his eye. Miss Fairfield approached him.

 

“Hello, you run the carousel at night?” she asked.

 

“Yeah,” he said vaguely.

 

“Were you here on Saturday night?”

 

“I’m here every night.”

 

He seemed slow or possibly mentally retarded.

 

“Did you see the guy who was mauled on Saturday night?” she asked.

 

The man looked at her for several seconds.

 

“Mauled?” he finally said.

 

“Yeah, he was missing an arm,” she said. “Scratches all over him.”

 

“Oh. He was running and he was screaming.”

 

“Yeah. He ran past you.”

 

“Uh … yeah.”

 

“Did he say anything?”

 

“Just yelling. He was bloody and screaming.”

 

“Yep, that sounds all right. Do you know which way he ran to?”

 

“No. He must’ve made somebody mad. Because they took his arm off.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“It was all gone.”

 

“All right. Well … have a good night.”

 

“Yeah, I do.”

 

* * *

 

They all met at the pony rides again. Miss Fairfield approached the man who was running the ride.

 

“Hello,” she said to him. “I didn’t catch your name last time.”

 

“What?” he said. “Uh … I’m Andrew Gallagher.”

 

He looked over the group.

 

“You those people …?” he asked.

 

“We’re looking into the missing woman,” she said.

 

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Yeah yeah yeah.”

 

“Well, we’ll probably be investigating the cemetery,” she said to him. “Because it’s nighttime. Maybe we’ll catch who did it.”

 

“Ah … yeah, good luck,” he said. “Have fun.”

 

“If you hear any screaming, go call somebody,” she said.

 

“Well … yeah,” he said.

 

They all went around the wall except for Miss Fairfield, who climbed over the top. They all made their way through Swan Point Cemetery with her in the lead. By the time they reached the spot in the cemetery with the fallen tombstone, they couldn’t really hear the carnival any more. They could still hear the lapping of water from the river. The trees cast many dark shadows and the moon was barely a sliver above. The tombstones scattered around could have hidden anyone or anything. At least it was relatively clear, the cold stars staring down from above.

 

Johnson headed deeper into the cemetery. He could see more tombstones and mausoleums but nothing out of the ordinary presented itself.

 

The rest spread out and looked around as well. No one had flashlights and it was very dark so it was only a short time before they lost sight of each other. They stumbled around in the dark, bumping into tombstones and tripping over memorial stones. Ingerton lit his pipe and smoked it but it afforded little to no light.

 

They eventually got back together.

 

“If we want to search around until the carnival closes, then we could actually check out this power plant,” Ingerton said.

 

“You mean … sneaking into the Menagerie?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Yes,” Ingerton said.

 

“You have fun with that,” Miss Edington said.

 

“We don’t even have flashlights!” Miss Fairfield said.

 

He looked at her silhouette for a moment, not able to actually make out her features in the dark.

 

“True,” he said quietly.

 

He thought on it a moment.

 

“We do have lighters,” he said.

 

That didn’t seem to inspire any confidence in the others.

 

They searched for about a half hour in the cemetery without finding anything out of the ordinary. While they were there, they spotted the headlights of an automobile making its way slowly through the cemetery. They took cover and stayed out of the light. At one point, the motorcar stopped and a light spotlight flashed from the side of the car, swinging around before going back out. The automobile continued on until it disappeared from sight. Ingerton guessed it was the police.

 

By 8 p.m., they had not found anything of interest. All of them except Ingerton returned to the carnival. He lurked by the wall of the cemetery near the Menagerie, watching the basement door.

 

* * *

 

The others headed into the park and decided to go to the Ferris wheel to see if anything might be seen from the height. Virgil Thomas waited at the bottom while the other four rode the Ferris wheel. While atop the mighty machine they all noticed two dark-colored sedans pull into the parking lot and four uniformed men get out and head into the park proper. They wore brown uniforms like the Providence County Sheriff’s deputies. They looked like they were heading for the center of the park in the area of the Swan Lake.

 

They headed over that way and found a crowd outside of the Tunnel of Terrors. It looked like the ride had been shut down and a sheriff’s deputy was out front, talking to a tow-headed man in his mid-twenties who wore glasses and carried a clipboard in his hand. Wilberforce Wyatt was talking to another deputy. A distraught-looking woman also stood there talking to the deputies. Two of the men escorted her away towards the parking lot. A rather large crowd had gathered and was watching.

 

Miss Fairfield moved to the front of the crowd and began setting up her tripod and camera. Wyatt walked over.

 

“Can I help you, miss?” he said.

 

“Just taking a picture,” she replied.

 

“Uh … why?”

 

“Because I work for the Journal. I’m a secretary there.”

 

“You’re … why? You’re a secretary?”

 

“Uh-huh.”

 

“Well, I’m sure the Journal will be able to get plenty of information from the police.”

 

“Yeah, but they’ll need pictures for the paper.”

 

“Ah, I see.”

 

He rolled his eyes at that.

 

“Well, there’s nothing really going on, miss,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll find an interesting-enough story to put a photograph with. But you’re welcome to take photographs if you like. I’m sorry. What was your name?”

 

“Miss Fairfield,” she said.

 

“Miss Fairfield,” he said, holding out his hand. “Wilberforce Wyatt.”

 

She shook his hand and he walked over to the deputy and the gentleman with glasses, who entered the Tunnel of Terrors. The deputy gave Miss Fairfield a glance and talked to Wyatt again. Wyatt shrugged. The deputy looked at her again and nodded at Wyatt before heading into the Tunnel of Terrors as well. Wyatt left the area just as she got the camera and flash set up. She made a note that they had all left.

 

The deputy came back out of the place and then stood off to the side to stay out of the way of the photograph.

 

People standing behind Miss Fairfield were gossiping and she and the others heard them talking about an upset woman who was screaming about something.

 

Johnson walked over to the deputy as Miss Fairfield got her camera prepared.

 

“What’s going on?” he asked the man.

 

“Nothing to concern yourself with, sir,” the deputy said.

 

There was suddenly a flash of light behind them as Miss Fairfield took a photograph. She had warned the people around her. It was blindingly bright and illuminated the entire front of the ride.

 

Johnson looked up as Miss Fairfield came over to thank the deputy and comment that maybe his picture would be in the paper. He didn’t look very happy about that.

 

“You’re welcome,” he said.

 

He went back to the front of the ride near the entrance to keep any gawkers away.

 

They discussed going after the woman and the other two deputies but decided they probably wouldn’t be able to get to her through them. They headed after them but never saw them and eventually guessed she might have been taken out of the park. They went to the parking area and saw a single car marked as belonging to the sheriff’s office there. Johnson pointed out they had seen two earlier and guessed they had already taken her away. Miss Fairfield suggested they were already at the sheriff’s office.

 

They discussed entering the Tunnel of Terrors. Miss Edington quipped they could go next door to the Fun House and Johnson noted he had been thinking there might be a way into the Tunnel of Terrors from the roof of the Fun House. Unfortunately, both buildings were covered in lights. Miss Edington suggested there might be another way into the Tunnel of Terrors. There was talk about trying to get around the deputies.

 

Johnson got as close to the building as he could, he and Bricker walking around the outside of it, but found no other entrances to the place. He thought about sneaking into the exit, which was in sight of the entrance where the deputy was standing.

 

He walked back to the rest to get their opinion of what to do. They were unsure. He noted that another problem was that if he got himself in there, he’d be alone. He finally suggested trying to get in by claiming he was a mechanic and something was wrong with the ride.

 

“We don’t want you getting arrested, Joel,” Miss Fairfield said. “I mean, I’m sure it’s not your first time.”

 

“Hurts ‘cause it’s true,” Johnson said. “So, we’re just going to wait this one out.”

 

“We don’t have that much of an option, I guess,” Miss Edington said.

 

“Well …” Johnson said.

 

“It’s either that or risk arrest,” Bricker said.

 

“I mean, if anything, we’ll hear something in the newspaper later,” Miss Edington said.

 

“I’m up for it if you want me to,” Johnson said. “But you’re going to have to tell me to pull the trigger. I’m not doing it unless it’s a group decision.”

 

“Well, we can always post your bail,” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“I’m not comfortable with this sneaking around cops,” Miss Edington said.

 

Miss Fairfield talked about their leads: Kent Howard in the hospital and the woman who had been taken away. Johnson pointed out the strange tentacle in the House of Freaks and the statuette. Miss Fairfield noted something had happened in the Tunnel of Terrors as well.

 

Miss Edington walked away. Virgil Thomas followed her.

 

“It’s just so weird the blood starts at the grave and comes here,” Miss Fairfield said. “There’s nothing out there.”

 

* * *

 

The man working at the Northern Lights Gift Shop was the same as when Miss Edington had been there earlier. She searched more of the shelves, looking for anything else out of the ordinary. Besides the other strange statuettes that were much like the one she purchased, there was nothing else particularly out of the ordinary, nothing that struck her as sinister or weird.

 

She went by Winston Craig’s East Asian Import Shop. The small brick building was tastefully decorated within, well-lit, and full of a startling array of Asian and Pacific Island merchandise. Everything from cheap gew-gaws to fine jewelry was represented. A motto was carved over the door in ivory: “If I don’t have it, I can most certainly get it!”

 

She didn’t see anything weird or out of the ordinary.

 

* * *

 

The others finally decided Johnson would try to get into the Tunnel of Terrors. The man approached the deputy.

 

“Hey, I work for the park and I’m not sure if I left a valve on in this place and I need to check it out and make sure nothing is going to happen to the people in there,” he told the man.

 

The deputy looked confused.

 

“Yeah, okay,” he said. “Go on.”

 

Johnson walked into the Tunnel of Terrors and into the dark. He could see the glare of flashlights deeper in the ride and realized it was all partitioned off so he could see the light for some ways, but couldn’t see who actually carried it. He thought he heard three voices in the place as well, one calling out for “Freddy.” The other two seemed to be fairly quiet and moved around, apparently searching the building.

 

He tripped over the track and the chain that held the cars together in the dark and, looking around, realizing it would not be hard to creep around the partitions in different parts of the building. A quick examination proved there were hidden places between the various exhibits that appeared to be divided by solid walls but were actually easily accessible. They were set up for people to be able to go between them though it looked like, from the track, they were solid walls.

 

He crouched near a fake gravestone and listened in the dark to what was going on. He stayed for several minutes and got the impression they were searching the building, obviously for someone named Freddy. At one point, the man calling called to the rest to hold still for a minute. After a short time, he asked if the others had heard anything but they hadn’t. The search resumed after that.

 

After about 15 minutes, Johnson left through the entrance again.

 

“It’s all good,” he said to the deputy. “I fixed it up.”

 

The deputy nodded at him and he left, quickly finding Bricker and Miss Fairfield.

 

“So, they’re searching for someone named Freddy,” he told them. “Looks like they’re not finding him at all. Makes me think, maybe that woman had a husband or maybe a boyfriend …”

 

“Or maybe a kid,” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Or maybe a kid,” Johnson said. “Looks like he’s gone. They were searching in there for a while. I was in there for 20 minutes. They still haven’t found ‘em. They’re still searching.”

 

Miss Edington joined them just after that and Johnson explained what he had seen in the building. He was of the opinion they should try to find the woman and try to find out about Freddy. There was also Kent Howard at the hospital. He suggested they try to talk to those leads the next day.

 

* * *

 

After an hour, Ingerton headed back into the carnival. He had a terrible time finding the others and it was after 10 p.m. before he located them. They stayed until the carnival closed and saw a paper on the Tunnel of Terrors noting it was closed until to the next day. Johnson had been watching the Tunnel of Terrors and saw people leave and close up the building close to the time of the closing of the park.

 

The park closed around 11 p.m. with the park workers seeing people to the road or the parking lot. They went their separate ways.

 

When she returned home, Miss Edington had Virgil Thomas find a fishbowl for the goldfish and put it on a small table next to the horrific little statuette she’d purchased.

 

* * *

 

On the morning of Tuesday, May 15, 1928, there was nothing in the Providence Journal about anything happening at the carnival.

 

They went to the hospital during the day but found out they would not be able to see Kent Howard as he was still unconscious. The nurse on duty seemed appreciative that his relatives and friends were coming to visit him. Apparently, only his parents had been to the hospital to see the man.

 

An article appeared in the Providence Evening Bulletin that afternoon. It read:

 

Child Missing Near Amusement Park

 

A 12-year-old boy, last seen at the North Star Amusement Arcade and Pleasure Pier,
was reported missing Monday.

 

Freddie Pendergast, 12, 87 Lauriston Street, has not been seen since.

 

According to the Providence County Sheriff’s Office, Susan Pendergast, Freddie’s
mother, expected him home at 6 p.m. Monday. When he didn’t arrive by 7 p.m., she
went down to “that damned hurdy-gurdy park” to fetch him.

 

Mrs. Pendergast searched for an hour, all over the park, but found no sign of Freddie.
She enlisted the help of the park security officer but success eluded them. It was only
after the search of another hour that she contacted Providence Police.

 

As the North Star Amusement Arcade and Pleasure Pier technically lays outside of the
city limits of Providence and is unaccounted for by Pawtucket, the Providence County
Sheriff’s Office took charge of the case.

 

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Freddie Pendergast and his two friends, Alvin and
Edgar Coombs, 12, had all gone to the carnival around 4 p.m. Freddie left the twins for
one last ride. According to police, the twins last saw him when he rode the little mechanical
car into the “Tunnel of Terrors,” his favorite ride at the amusement park.

 

They never saw him come out.

 

The Providence County Sheriff’s Office has proclaimed the missing child as either a
runaway or perhaps an accidental drowning, though no body has been found.

 

“Kids run away all the time,” said Providence County Sheriff John J. Josephson. “He’ll
probably be back when he realizes the open road is no place for a kid. Or when he gets hungry.”

 

When asked why the missing child was listed as a “possible drowning” he noted that the
police had to cover all of the bases though until a body was recovered, the case would continue
as a missing person’s case.

 

“We made every effort to find this missing child,” said Park Manager Wilberforce Wyatt.
“The park has been searched. He is not here.”

 

He noted it is not terribly hard to slip off the Tunnel of Terror ride before the cart exits
the building and assumed Freddie Pendergast did so, slipping away from the building after
his friends had left.

 

The missing child comes hard on the heels of a possible murder and assault that occurred
in the nearby Swan Point Cemetery Saturday night. Kent Howard and his sweetheart Lucy
Pringle were wandering in the graveyard after spending time at the North Star Amusement
Park and Pleasure Pier when they were attacked. Howard was maimed, his right arm removed
at the shoulder, and Miss Pringle is missing and presumed dead. That incident remains under
investigation by the Providence Police Department.

 

Kent Howard remains at Rhode Island Hospital. He is listed in fair condition.

 

North Star Amusement Arcade and Pleasure Pier has been in operation since 1906 when land
south of Riverside Cemetery was purchased from the City of Pawtucket.

 

Police ask that anyone with information on the whereabouts of Freddie Pendergast contact
the Providence County Sheriff’s Department. Anyone with information about the assault in
Swan Point Cemetery is asked to contact the Providence Police Department.







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