Dark Carnival Session Three Part 4 - Flight
CoC 1-6e Jazz Age
* * *
As they approached the three men standing by the malachite altar, James, Miss Edington, and Virgil Thomas were shaken by the sight of dead men standing upright as if alive.
“Remember that spell you taught us?” Miss Edington whispered to Bricker.
“Uh-huh,” he said.
“You wanna try that?”
“Only if they start losing.”
Ingerton came running out of the cave entrance.
“Joell?” James said. “What is this?”
Miss Edington thought she heard the sound of distant voices and many footsteps.
“Go! Go! Go! Go!” she said. “There’s footsteps!”
Now they all heard it: the footsteps of a half-dozen to a dozen people moving their way quickly. They saw lights on the other side of the cavern as well. Ingerton bolted, running for the ladder. Miss Edington fled as well. James thought he had come from that same direction.
It sounded like a lot of people.
“There they are!” someone yelled. “They’re over by the fire!”
A gunshot rang out and a bullet ricocheted off the cave wall nearby. Someone in the mob started singing.
Everyone but James fled into the cave back towards the ladder. Father Oein started moving the way he’d come into the caverns but then he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Virgil Thomas standing over him.
“Padre, there’s a way out this way,” he said. “C’mon.”
“Okay,” Father Oein said. “Yes sir.”
James kept backing up as quickly as he could and pointing his pistol. The lights were moving towards him with speed. The people were running. Once he was out of the light of the fire, the singing stopped. Another gunshot rang out and a bullet ricocheted nearby. James realized he was alone. The rest of them had fled.
He ran. He saw Ingerton in the tunnel near the cave where the creatures had been. The man had a stick of dynamite in one hand and a lighter in the other.
“Ingerton, let’s move!” James said.
Ingerton realized if he left the fuse long enough that they wouldn’t get blown out of the secret entrance like a bullet out of gun, their pursuers would probably get to the stick of dynamite before it exploded. He looked around for a rock.
“What are you doing?” James said. “What are you doing? We don’t have the time!”
Ingerton turned and ran into the tunnel back towards the ladder. James pelted after him.
* * *
Huxtable had returned to his car, discarding the waders in the cemetery. He drove into town to the nearest police station.
* * *
Miss Edington climbed up the ladder and out of the open grave. She stopped at the top and waited, pistol in hand. Joseph Johnson was next out of the grave and heard an automobile driving away somewhere nearby. He also waited. Joell Johnson was the next one out. He looked towards the carnival but didn’t see any lights or hear any sound. Bricker was the next out and stopped at the top. Father Oein and Virgil Thomas were out behind them. Father Oein thanked the negro for getting him out of there and then he and the Johnson cousins ran back toward the priest’s Model T. Miss Edington and Virgil Thomas headed for her Packard.
Only Bricker was by the open grave when Ingerton climbed up into the grave, out of breath. James was climbing up the ladder and they could all hear hoots and calls from down below. Bricker handed Ingerton his handgun back. The cries from below sounded hostile.
“Get ‘em!” someone called.
As James reached the top of the ladder Ingerton fired his pistol at one of the lights below. There was a crash and the sound of shattered glass, as well as a scream. James stopped at the top of the ladder.
“Come back down,” a familiar voice called. “Come back down! Come back down! Come back down! We’ve got something for you. We’ve got something for you!”
Ingerton recognized the voice as that of the barker in the red jacket.
“Whaddya got?” Ingerton yelled back in a different voice that James had ever heard before.
“Come back down,” the voice called again. “We’ve got something for ya!”
“Whaddya got for me?” Ingerton called in his voice again.
“Send yer friend!” the barker called. “Send yer friend. Everybody gets some! Everybody comes down here! Sooner or later!”
Some singing started below. It was a man’s voice.
“Ah!” the barker called. “Ah! Now you’ll see what we have to give! What we have to … to give.” The voice lowered to a whisper. “From the carnival! From the dark, dark carnival!”
The singing stopped and suddenly James felt a terrible pain run through his entire body. He saw the skin of his arms suddenly shrivel as the hot, searing pain ran through him.
“Just a little taste!” the barker called. “A little taste! Come back down! Come back down!” He hissed at the last. “Come down!”
All of the lights below had gone dark and it was pitch black down there.
James climbed up the ladder as quickly as he could, despite the pain, pulling himself into the open grave. The thought that curiosity killed the cat ran through his head as he climbed out of the grave and fled. He heard vehicles starting not far away and saw the lights of the automobiles.
“Suzanna!” he called as he ran.
* * *
Ingerton stood in the open grave. He could hear only whispering below. He lit the piece of dynamite, dropped it at his feet, and pulled out his flare gun.
“You wanna hide in the dark?” he said.
He fired the flare gun into the hole. The flare hit a man three quarters of the way up the ladder in the face, entering one of the man’s eye sockets and sending a spray of sparks out. The man didn’t stop climbing however. His head started to whip around as the flare pushed against it, swinging like a man having some kind of horrific seizure. Others were on the ladder behind him.
Ingerton climbed out of the grave and sprinted.
“Run!” he shouted.
Though he had only had a short fuse on the dynamite, he was surprised when he didn’t hear an explosion. He didn’t care. He kept running, fleeing the cemetery.
* * *
Miss Edington stopped near her Packard, watching the strange lights coming out of the open grave far behind them. Virgil grabbed her arm and pulled her towards the auto.
“Miss Suzanna, you ain’t never been chased by a lynch mob,” he said. “Let me show you how it’s done.”
“What?” she said.
“We will rally at the vehicles!”
They reached the Packard and she entered the passenger side while Virgil ran around the side to the driver’s side. The lights still flashed in the grave some ways away.
* * *
James ran towards the Packard. Ingerton caught up with him.
“If we get out of this, I know a guy!” he said to the man as he ran by.
They both reached Miss Edington’s automobile as it roared to life. Father Oein started his own vehicle with the crank on the front and ran around the side to climb in. Ingerton ran to the Model T and leapt in.
James moaned in pain as he leaned on the Packard.
“Let me in the car!” he cried.
“Ew!” Miss Edington cried out.
He climbed into the back seat of the motorcar.
“I am in way too much pain for your nonsense right now!” James cried out. “Your esthetic nonsense with your car.”
“You’re going to be cleaning my car later!” Miss Edington said.
“I am hurt right now and not in the mood to deal with your esthetics!” James said.
Virgil Thomas put the car into gear and they roared out of the cemetery just ahead of Father Oein’s Model T.
“It is not esthetic, it is stink!” Miss Edington said.
“Get me out of here!” James cried.
* * *
Bricker had not even stopped at the autos but just run back into the city.
* * *
“I know where the boy is,” Dr. Huxtable said to the police. “I will show you.”
They drove him to Swan Point Cemetery and he tried to find the grave with the secret door. Unfortunately, he had no luck finding it in the dark. The police finally got tired of looking and they went to the cemetery superintendent’s house, getting him out of bed. They got hold of maps of the graveyard and found only a single John Smith in the north end of the cemetery. Once they had the plot they began to search the cemetery again, well over an hour later. They finally found the tombstone with John Smith and then the police went to get shovels and began to dig up the grave.
It was after three in the morning by the time they had dug down several feet. One of them questioned Dr. Huxtable that the so-called secret door was under all that dirt. He claimed it was and they continued digging until they hit a coffin. The brass plaque on the coffin was also for John Smith.
Dr. Huxtable had been unsure it was the right spot but now realized it certainly wasn’t. The officers looked at him as if they wondered if the whole thing was some kind of sick joke.
“I have seven accomplices that can … uh … confirm my story,” Dr. Huxtable said.
“Accomplices?” one of the officers asked.
“Yes. They’re my friends.”
“C’mon, let’s go to the station. You can tell us a story.”
“Yes! I will call them there.”
They took him to the police station and started questioning him. Remembering the terrible interrogation by police in Charing Cross, N.H., some years before, he panicked and begged them to let him go. That seemed to worry the police officers so they carefully put him in a cell until he calmed down.
“No, not again!” Dr. Huxtable said. “Not again!”
However, they let him go to the bathroom and brought him water when he asked for it, handling the well-appointed man with kid gloves. They got his name and address and he asked them not to put it in the paper as he was a distinguished professor and he didn’t want his reputation soiled.
They kept him overnight.
* * *
“I’m terribly injured and in pain,” James moaned from the back seat.
Miss Edington shined her flashlight on the man and was horrified to recognize what had happened to him was the same as what had happened to Miss Fairfield in Florida.
“Welp,” she said. “I know what’s happened to you.”
“What, you do?”
She told Virgil Thomas to take them all to her house. He drove to her house in the Blackstone neighborhood, not far away.
“You might want to go in and change your shoes,” Virgil Thomas said to Miss Edington.
She went in.
“You, gettum off,” he said to James. “Right here. Don’t go in the house. Everything. Everything.”
He went into the house and returned a minute later with a robe. James had, in the meantime, taken off his shoes.
“Excuse me?” James said.
“Get them clothes off,” Virgil Thomas said. “‘Cause you’re not coming in the house with ‘em.”
James stripped and Virgil Thomas gave him the robe. The negro ushered him to a bathroom and ran a bath for him so that he could clean himself up. Then he tried to tend to the man’s wounds. When James was clean and wearing some of Virgil Thomas’ clothing, he and Miss Edington sat in the parlor and talked. Virgil Thomas brought them tea and lotion for James’ shriveled skin.
Miss Edington told him everything about the terrible trip to Florida, including the things they saw and the god in the lake as well as the magical books they’d found. She was completely open and honest about it, telling the man everything, including the magic Papa Jobe cast on Miss Fairfield and what happened to her and to James.