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Dark Carnival Session Four Part 3 - Dinner with Ghouls

Posted by Max_Writer , in Call of Cthulhu, Campaign Log 15 February 2017 · 351 views

CoC 1-6e Jazz Age

Another of the things came out with them.

 

“There you are!” the thing said in English. “You were supposed to bring me food! I was waiting for supper. We were all going to eat together. I was going to tell you … wondrous things! What happened?”

 

“We got chased out,” Joell said.

 

“Your followers … they chased us away,” Father Oein said.

 

The creature laughed.

 

“They’re not our followers,” it said. “We were here first, yes. They think we work for them.”

 

It snorted.

 

“What do you do?” Father Oein said.

 

“We’re here for ourselves,” the thing whispered.

 

“What do they think you do for them?” Joseph said, gathering up his courage but not looking at the thing.

 

“Guard, serve …” the thing said.

 

“Why can’t you get the bodies for yourself?” Joell asked.

 

“We’re not supposed to,” the thing replied. “You don’t have to bring those. I don’t honestly care but it needs to be rotten and it needs to be delicious … rotten … flesh.”

 

The thing sniffed at Joell.

 

“You’re too fresh,” it said. “And skinny.”

 

“Much to fresh,” Joseph muttered.

 

The thing looked at him.

 

“What are you doing, nosing around up there?” it asked. “If I hadn’t been up and about, looking for some game, I wouldn’t even have … you’re going to get killed. Of course, then I’ll get you anyway.”

 

“So, you don’t want us to get killed?” Father Oein muttered.

 

“Oh, I don’t care,” the thing replied.

 

Joseph muttered something.

 

“What did you say there, little man?” the foul thing asked.

 

Joseph didn’t answer. He backed away without a word.

 

“We can tell you things and teach you things but we want rotten meat,” the thing said again. “And you did such a sloppy, shabby, sad little job when you were here a few days ago …”

 

Joell looked at the rest.

 

“Got all of them up,” the thing said. “Like swatting a hornet’s nest. Why? Don’t be foolish. Do you know how many of them there are?”

 

“Of the carnies?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Many of who?” Father Oein said.

 

The thing gestured back the way they had come.

 

“There are many,” the thing said. “But I talk too much. Payment is required!”

 

“I think this is the best lead we have,” Joell said.

 

“What? You want to go dig up a body?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“No, there’re standing ones somewhere back in here. By that light there’s an altar and there’s just─”

 

“Yes.” the thing said. “The altar.”

 

“─dead people standing around.”

 

“Dead. Delicious.”

 

“What’s the altar for?” Joseph said.

 

The horrific thing wiped the drool from his face.

 

“Excuse me,” it said.

 

“So, we just have to bring one of those over here?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Yeah,” Father Oein said.

 

“What’s the altar for?” Joseph said.

 

“Yes, smash it in the head, break it,” the thing said, ignoring Joseph. “Bring it. I don’t feel like dealing with it. Kill it first and bring it here. And the things I can tell you …”

 

It looked them over.

 

“What are you doing here anyway?” it asked. “Why did you come back to the carnival? I would have thought that you would have been too afraid after seeing us. Of my lovely visage.”

 

It cackled.

 

“Why can’t you go get it yourself?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Because then we have to fight it,” the thing said. “We’re not supposed to. They say ‘Don’t kill our zombies anymore because … it takes so much work.’ I say ‘Fine!’”

 

“So, the carnies will get mad at us if we take it.”

 

“Well, if you make a lot of noise and they notice. The last time, one of your friends pretty much walked in and said ‘Hey! We’re here! Come and get us!’”

 

“One of our friends?” Bricker said.

 

“One of you meat bags walking around.”

 

“That must have been Milo or Wessen,” Joell said.

 

“Iunno,” the thing replied. “Who’s Milo? Who’s Wessen?”

 

“The people we came with last time.”

 

“You all look alike to me. Smell different though. This one brought one of yours. Was it that one?”

 

He gestured to the other creature.

 

“I’m not going to tell you right now,” Joell said.

 

“You are in a precarious position already,” the thing said, glaring at him. “You have them as up above. Waiting to crush you and sacrifice you. And you have those of us below, who at the snap of my fingers we could have meat in a week or so.”

 

It laughed again.

 

“You’re too skinny though,” it said, poking Joell with one obscenely long claw.

 

It looked at Miss Fairfield.

 

“Now this one … this one,” the things said.

 

It made little approving grunts.

 

“But I don’t feel like waiting,” it said.

 

“Well …” Joell said.

 

The thing looked over them all but only seemed interesting in Miss Fairfield.

 

“Why can’t you just take bodies from the cemetery?” she asked.

 

“We have,” the thing replied. “But if you want answers, you have to make payment. It is a capitalistic world, you know. It has been since I was up there. It’s all about gold. It’s all about the pound. It’s all about tea.”

 

“Then why are you down here?”

 

“Because I found a better way. Like Clancy did. But Clancy just eats now. Just eats and eats. Doesn’t talk much anymore. But it is what it is.”

 

Joseph muttered something.

 

“If you wish answers, I need payment,” the thing said. Then it glared at Joseph. “What did you say! What? What?”

 

Joseph just shook his head.

 

“I think we’re stuck down there,” Joell said.

 

“No, you’re not,” the stinking beast said. “I’ll take you out.”

 

“Do you want to do it?” Joell said to the others.

 

“But when I smelled you around the ride when I was up scouting around, I thought ‘Oh, they’ve come back with my dinner.’ But no! Empty-handed. Empty pockets! Those!”

 

He gestured at Joell’s revolver.

 

“These trinkets,” the thing said. “And nothing. Nothing. I figured you just put it in some kind of sealed container so I wouldn’t smell it and get … attentive. But you brought me nothing!”

 

“So, you depend on the carnies to bring you food?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“No,” the thing replied. “We were here long before them. We’ll be here long after they’re gone. Despite their worship. Despite their god. But if food is easy to acquire, we’ll take it.”

 

“I think if we want to know more about these people, we’re not going to get the kind of info these … things … have up top on the surface─” Joell said.

 

Then stinking thing walked to the man and put a rubbery arm around his shoulders.

 

“It’s so rude to talk about someone like they’re not even there!” the thing said.

 

The stench of the beast and its foul, rotten breath was almost overpowering.

 

“Excuse me,” Joell said. “But do you have a name I can call you by?”

 

“Oh!” the creature said. “I haven’t gone by a name in a long time. Gabriel will do, I suppose. Been a long time. Been a long time.”

 

“Then … Gabriel … is going to have more information, I think, than anything we can find up on the surface will about what’s going on.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And …”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I won’t do something if you all agree not to do it, but I think we should do it.”

 

Gabriel was licking his lips.

 

“Fine!” Father Oein said.

 

“Oh!” Gabriel said.

 

“Fine!” Father Oein said again.

 

“You bring me a meal. I’ll answer your questions. And I’ll show you the way out. Our way out. If you’re respectful. Look!”

 

It said something to the other creature and it ran back into the cave.

 

“What language is that?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Our language,” Gabriel said.

 

The thing might have grinned at her but it was hard to tell due to the shape of its face.

 

The other thing returned a few moments later and handed off a large, obviously old iron key.

 

“Ah,” Gabriel said.

 

It laughed.

 

“They buried me,” it said. “But I knew a way out.”

 

“Fine,” Father Oein said again.

 

“You’re the priest!”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Or minister. What are you?”

 

“Priest.”

 

“Priest. Priest.”

 

The thing sniffed in his general direction.

 

“One of the Vatican’s men?” the creature muttered.

 

“Yes,” Father Oein said.

 

The horror laughed again.

 

“I didn’t recognize you without your collar,” the thing said.

 

“So, we have two yea’s,” Joell said. “What do the rest of you want to do?”

 

“Fine,” Bricker said.

 

“Fine,” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“All right, let’s go get him,” Joell said.

 

They left the thing, heading back into the larger chamber.

 

“They said to go after the head,” Father Oein said.

 

“Yep,” Joell said. “I don’t think I want to fire a gun in these caves.”

 

He put his revolver away. Joseph took his bayonet from its sheath and mounted it on the end of his rifle. They walked to the place where the things were standing around. Joseph stopped near the cave entrance while the others walked over to the walking dead bodies. Father Oein started to get a strange and terrible feeling about them. He felt like they should be torn to pieces so that they could finally be at rest. His eye twitched.

 

One of the bodies was that of Jake Wessen. He was obviously dead.

 

“Well,” Joell said. “Guess we know where that one person who went alone went, that private eye.”

 

Joell looked at the others and then walked up to one of the more rotten corpses. He lifted his baseball bat and then looked at Joseph, but couldn’t see him. He spotted him far away with a flashlight, not looking in their direction. Joell looked at the others.

 

“Does somebody have my back if this goes wrong?” he said.

 

Miss Fairfield took out her .38 revolver. Father Oein crossed himself. Bricker made two fists and nodded.

 

Joell swung at the thing’s head but caught it a glancing blow on the shoulder, the bat bouncing off and hitting the thing in the head not terribly hard. It suddenly lashed out with a hand, striking Joell in the side of the head and sending him sprawling to the ground. The man was knocked out with a single blow.

 

Bricker, Miss Fairfield, and Father Oein all tried to treat the man’s terrible blunt wound. Joell came around but was badly injured. Joseph had run over when he saw his cousin go down and was disturbed to see Wessen standing among the other dead men. Joell shook his head and could already feel his face starting to bruise. He hoped he hadn’t lost any fillings. The blow had been the worst he’d ever taken in his life.

 

Joseph propped Joell up against one of the benches.

 

“Who’s strong?” Father Oein said.

 

Joell muttered something unintelligibly as Miss Fairfield picked up the baseball bat. She had never played baseball and decided she would try the spell she had learned from Bricker that had been in the Revelations of Glaaki. It had been called the Nyhargo Dirge. She sang briefly in a strange language none of them understood. The words didn’t seem like they were meant to be formed by the human mouth and throat. Then she pointed at a corpse and it fell to the ground in a heap.

 

Miss Fairfield felt herself weaken but pushed herself to finish the spell, a wave of pain going through her. She didn’t think she got the spell quite right though. Something had been off. Then she turned and ran away in a panic.

 

“Wait, you need the body first, before you go,” Joell called, slurring his words. “I wanna help carry the body.”

 

Joseph helped Joell up while Father Oein and Bricker collected the fallen corpse. It stank.

 

* * *

 

Miss Fairfield fled. The panic she felt at casting the spell wrong and it working was combating the fear of what would have happened if she had cast the spell correctly. She even knew exactly what word she had gotten wrong, though she wasn’t sure she could say it the way she had just said it ever again. The panic ebbed when she got back to the horrible thing that called itself Gabriel. It was whistling a disturbing-sounding tune and picking something out of its claws.

 

It looked at her.

 

“Yes?” it said.

 

“I killed it for you,” she said.

 

“Well, bring it here.”

 

“That’s what the boys are doing.”

 

It went back to picking at its claws, removing something with a satisfied sound and popping it into his mouth. Moments later, the others returned with the corpse. It felt like it was about to fall apart and its belly was bloated. The skin seemed to move across muscle and bone as if it was about to tear.

 

“Hey!” Joell called drunkenly, his head hurting. “It’s my boy, Gabriel. Smells like the dead. I like you. How’s it going? Those guys … they have good muscles.”

 

The thing that called itself Gabriel grabbed Joell by the chin and turned his head. It examined the terrible bruise on the side of his face. Then it laughed.

 

“Well, that didn’t go well,” it said.

 

“Nope!” Joell said.

 

Father Oein had picked up Joell’s baseball bat before they had come back.

 

Gabriel started salivating and laughed as he looked at the corpse.

 

“Yeah!” it said. “All right. Bring it in. Bring it in. C’mon. We can talk in here.”

 

He led them into the cave with a strange giggle and called ahead. When they entered, they found at least a half dozen more of the things in the stinking cave. Bones littered and place. A fat creature in the back took out a rotten, dirty, disgusting handkerchief and tied it around its neck with a great flourish. Then it rubbed its hands together in anticipation, laughing.

 

“That’s him,” Gabriel said.

 

“I can tell he eats,” Joel slurred. “He likes to eat.”

 

“Right here!” Gabriel said. “Right here!”

 

They dropped the corpse amidst the terrible creatures and backed away as they tore into it. The stench in the room became almost overwhelming. Surprisingly, no one got sick. They ate the rotten corpse with relish, none of the actual people in the room watching and all of them trying to ignore the terrible rending and meaty eating noises.

 

“Gibbets for me,” Gabriel said. “Gibbets.”

 

It tore into the belly of the dead man and drew forth meat, ripping off some of the ribs as well. It sat down between the living and the dead.

 

“They are worshippers of … thank you, by the way,” it said. “Worshippers of Shudde M’ell.”

 

Bricker’s mouth fell open. He had heard of that somewhere. It was a god or perhaps just the greatest of creatures called the chthonians, great burrowers beneath that resembled the statuette Miss Edington had purchased. The things were huge, however. He guessed they were the size of a bus or larger. They were very, very dangerous. The tentacle in the House of Freaks was probably from a small one of the things.

 

“So, what are the zombies for?” Miss Fairfield asked. “The undead.”

 

“Oh, part of their rituals,” Gabriel said, chewing. “And to protect. But they’re too stupid to understand. If someone came down and started to accost their little … their little ritual area, then they would probably defend it. To kill. They would kill. They’re hard to kill. Very hard to kill. How did you kill? I heard some singing.”

 

None of them said anything.

 

“Was it you?” the thing asked Miss Fairfield.

 

It turned to Bricker.

 

“Was it you?” it said.

 

It turned to Joell.

 

“Was it … it wasn’t you!” it said.

 

“Not me,” Joell said.

 

“Who was singing? Who was casting? Someone cast a spell.”

 

It finally turned to Miss Fairfield.

 

“It was you,” it said. “It was a woman’s voice. You’re a woman, aren’t you?”

 

She just looked at the thing.

 

“All right,” it finally said. “It’s been a while.”

 

Then it laughed again.

 

“They worship,” it went on. “Their sacrifices are on the … full moon. The full moon.”

 

“The full moon,” Joell muttered.

 

“That’s when they meet at the Moon Pool. That’s why they call it that. And they worship. And sometimes they summon Shudde M’ell. There are a couple of chthonians around here, you know. Good luck with that.”

 

It laughed again.

 

“What else do you wish to know?” it said. “This tasty morsel has bought you whatever you wish to know. About anything you wish to know. Like─”

 

“Do they take the people?” Joell muttered. “Do they abduct? Or is that you?”

 

“We don’t want live bodies. We only want dead bodies.”

 

“So … they’re the ones doing it.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“They snatch. They take─”

 

“Who all is part of them?” Joseph said.

 

“They all look alike to me,” it replied. “There’s a few. There’s quite a few of them though.”

 

“Do you know if they all live up there in the houses?” Joell asked.

 

“None of them live down here,” it replied.

 

“Okay. Can you … do you know which house connects? How do we get in here if not …”

 

“There are several ways up. You found one! We showed it to you!”

 

It flung a rib bone at Joell. The bloody, rotten piece bounced off the man’s chest.

 

“Aw,” Joell said, disgusted. “You can keep it, sir.”

 

“There’s nothing left,” Gabriel said. “I don’t like marrow.”

 

“All right. That’s a fine thing. I don’t like it either.”

 

The thing reached back and groped in the corpse like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. It pulled out a piece of meat.

 

“Oh yeah!” it said. “Liver!”

 

“Are you demons?” Father Oein asked.

 

It laughed loudly at that.

 

“No,” he said. “No no no no no.”

 

“I was wondering that too,” Joell said. “If you had to call yourself something …”

 

“The ghūl … is what the Arabians call us,” it said.

 

“Okay.”

 

“I believe the translation to English is ghouls. That’s all. We live forever, you know. There’s no aging amongst our kind. I can teach you. I can teach you. There is great power amongst the ghouls.”

 

“No, I can’t,” Father Oein said.

 

“You can learn the truth! Aside from your cross and your virgin and your dead man.”

 

“You know I’m kind of about redistribution of power, you see what I’m saying?” Joell said. “So, I think your thing is good but I’m going to take a breather on it. I’m going to take a rain check.”

 

“Up to you,” the ghoul said. “Because there are things and places we can go that mankind has not yet … understood the ways.”

 

“The Dreamlands?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“This one knows,” Gabriel said, pointing at her.

 

“Hey! I been there!” Joell said. “We all went. Me and him. He was there!”

 

He pointed at Bricker.

 

“We can go there any time we want,” the ghoul said.

 

“Hm,” Joell said. “Uh-huh. Who is that boy … what’s his name? Nyarlet-hotep. Nyarl-hotel?”

 

“You have met him?” the ghoul said with a laugh. “Yes!”

 

“He wasn’t quite nice, though.”

 

“Best not to speak his name.”

 

“I didn’t say it.”

 

“They worship down here. They’ve been here 20 years or so. They found the place. They found us. We worked out a … contract. They think we work for them. We work for us.”

 

“What do they do for you?”

 

“Sometimes we participate in their ceremonies. It is amusing.”

 

“What’s your goal?” Father Oein said.

 

“Hmm,” Gabriel said, thinking. “To eat. To survive. What is your goal?”

 

“It was to find a little boy,” Joseph said. “I don’t know any more.”

 

“I fight for the survival of the … workman’s class,” Joell muttered.

 

“Ah, you’re an anarchist,” the ghoul said.

 

“No!” Joell replied. “I mean … I just …”

 

“British?”

 

“No.”

 

“Indian?”

 

“I think you’ve been out of the political spectrum a little bit.”

 

“Oh yes. For 200 years.”

 

“Yeah, so it’s not just them boys anymore. I don’t dislike … stuff. I just don’t think a few people … it’s … my brain’s not working quite right.”

 

“Yes, I noticed.”

 

“I’ll explain it later.”

 

“Has there been a boy?” Father Oein asked.

 

“They’ve taken some captives,” the ghoul said. “They’re somewhere in these caves. I don’t know where. They’re not here. They’re not by the niche where your friend found my fellows.”

 

“But you haven’t had any boys?”

 

“No. No. Nope. We dig up. Like all of our kind. Underneath the coffins. In order to get the choice morsels. Though you poison then against us now. Some. We find our ways around that.”

 

“How?” Bricker said.

 

“Formaldehyde?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“They don’t like formaldehyde,” Joseph said.

 

“That’s emblem … emblem,” Joell said.

 

“It’s quite rude of you,” the ghoul said. “You know, we are the natural order. We remove the dead once they’re dead and we make use of them. But for some reason, you pump them full of chemicals now. Makes them less appetizing.”

 

“I don’t think a bunch of people up there quite get it,” Joell said. “Because until we shared this heart to heart about what’s going on, I didn’t know anything about …”

 

“Well, now you know, it’d be best to keep your mouth shut. They won’t believe you anyway.”

 

“Uh-huh.”

 

“So, you can take us to the Dreamlands?” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Hmmm,” the ghoul said. “Maybe. It depends on how you wish to go there. We can take you physically to the Dreamlands. The more of us that you are, the easier it is. As a matter of fact, if you are us, you can go whenever you wish.”

 

“Uh … nah,” Father Oein said.

 

“Oh, it’s quite spectacular!” the ghoul said.

 

“No. No no no.”

 

“Fair enough … priest. I care not, one way or the other.”

 

“Well, I’m good. I don’t know about you all.”

 

“I’m really good,” Joell said.

 

Gabriel laughed.

 

“You thought we were demons?” it said. “Really?”

 

It laughed again.

 

“Your bible … is a book filled with the most ridiculous … cult … babblings,” it said. “You realize none of it’s true, don’t you?”

 

“Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that,” Father Oein said.

 

“I could find someone who can tell you what really happened back then.”

 

“What!?!”

 

“Oh … we are ageless. We don’t ever die. We live forever.”

 

“You know a lot,” Joell said. “What school did you go to?”

 

“It was a school in New England,” the ghoul said. “It was one of the first colleges in America.”

 

“That’s pretty nice.”

 

“I don’t know what they call it now.”

 

“How come you can talk?” Father Oein said. “The rest of them don’t.”

 

“I’m younger,” the ghoul said. “Much younger than the rest.”

 

“Two hundred years …”

 

“Yes. Yes, I was … I was seeking … seeking … seeking knowledge. Very, very esoteric knowledge. And … and I found - I stumbled upon the ghouls and they allowed me to join them. And I found that this existence is simple. It’s easy. It’s almost black and white. You eat. You live. Forever. As opposed to all the gray areas that I had in my mind before: all the politics and religion and all the … the things that make life complex. There’s none of that down here. There’s just food. Knowledge. Thought. Conversation. It’s a good life. It’s a good life, priest.”

 

It nodded and took a big bite of the rotten liver. They felt their stomachs turn.

 

“Hey, just a … just a … hypothetical question here between the two of us,” Joell said drunkenly. “If you didn’t like those boys down here making those rituals and stuff, would you … consider helping us if we didn’t like ‘em either.”

 

“If we didn’t want them here, they would not be here,” the ghoul said. “But we do not care.”

 

“So, what is it? You don’t care. Or you like them.”

 

“Didn’t I just say we don’t care?”

 

“Yeah, you don’t care. It took me a moment.”

 

“Could we get that key?” Joseph said.

 

“Yeah, you said there was a way out?” Father Oein said.

 

“I can show you the way out,” the ghoul said.

 

“How?” Father Oein said.

 

“I can show you. But there is a condition on the way out.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“You do not bring anyone else in through that way.”

 

“No one comes in the way you show us out.”

 

“But can we─?” Joell said.

 

“Especially not your constables,” the ghoul said. “And your army. And others who might oppose the delicate balance of our lives.”

 

“So, just us?” Father Oein said. “Just … the five of us.”

 

“But we could go back in and out?” Joell said.

 

“Yes,” the ghoul said. “I’ll take your word, even to your god, priest. If you give it.”

 

“What about others that have already seen you that were with us before?” Joseph said.

 

The ghoul shrugged and it looked like its head might fall off.

 

“Meh,” he said. “Meh.”

 

“What’s that mean?” Father Oein said. “Meh. Meh.”

 

“I don’t care,” the ghoul said.

 

“I think he means he doesn’t care,” Joell said. “I think he means─”

 

“So, they can come with us?” Father Oein said.

 

“Do not bring down men with guns that would try to do anything to us,” the ghoul said. “Be advised, though we have the same shape as you, we are much more resilient.”

 

Father Oein sighed and the ghoul finished eating up the liver.

 

“Yeah, I would love to go,” the priest said.

 

The ghoul laughed.

 

“I’ll show you the way,” it said.

 

It stood up. The way the thing moved, how it’s bones didn’t seem solid enough to hold it up and how they moved in such a fashion under its skin, was repellent. Hideous.

 

“If that’s all you wish to know,” it said. “Is that all you wish to know?”

 

“Do you all have any more questions for the delightful Mr. Gabe?” Joell asked.

 

“I don’t like nicknames.”

 

“Oh, I’m sorry. Gabriel.”

 

“What are your names?”

 

“I’m Jo Jo,” Joell said.

 

“I’m Jo Jo,” Joseph said.

 

“It’s confusing, I know.”

 

“Neither one sounds like a name,” the ghoul said. “What is your surname … jo jo?”

 

“Johns Son,” Joell said.

 

“Johnson.”

 

“John son.”

 

“Johnson. And you … the lady?”

 

“Evelyn Fairfield,” she said.

 

It looked at Bricker.

 

“Nigel Bricker,” he said.

 

It looked at the priest.

 

“Oein McConnell,” he said.

 

It looked at Joseph.

 

“Johnson,” he said.

 

“It’s confusing, I know,” Joell said.

 

“Fair enough,” the ghoul said.

 

It walked out of the cave and led them past the brazier.

 

“Now, if we wanted to stop the rituals that these followers of … what was it, Shudde M’ell?” Bricker said.

 

“Shudde M’ell,” the ghoul said.

 

“From performing, how would we go about doing that?”

 

“Kill them all.”

 

“That’s the only way?”

 

“That sounds like … that’s difficult,” Joell said.

 

“How else would you stop the ritual of a cult?” the ghoul said.

 

“I see your point,” Bricker said.

 

“Take their sacrifices.”

 

“That will stop the one ritual,” Joseph said.

 

“It will just stop the one,” the ghoul said.

 

“All right,” Bricker said.

 

The thing led them along the wall past the ritual area and into another smaller cave entrance. It took them into a tunnel that broke to the left and right. They noticed small, man-sized burrows about two or three feet in diameter.

 

“These are your food holes!” Joell blurted out. “Aren’t they?”

 

“You are very observant,” the ghoul said. “You should join us! Stay with us! Stay! Stay.”

 

“Nah, I’ve got people who need me.”

 

“Fair enough. If you ever change your mind … you’ll know where to come.”

 

“I’ll call you up. Give you a holler.”

 

The ghoul led them to the left where a set of steep stone stairs went upwards perhaps 30 feet. At the top, the ghoul pushed against the stone ceiling. It pivoted up and the steps climbed into what appeared to be a black basalt mausoleum. Stone coffins sat around the room but the ghoul ignored them and went to an iron door where he inserted the key. It pulled the door open.

 

They did not know air could smell that good. It was like perfume on the wind. It was so fresh after being in that terrible pit for only an hour or so that they all breathed it in deeply. It was like heaven.

 

“Now remember, you will keep our secrets or we will find you,” the thing said. “Because we can easily find any of you if we so desire.”

 

“If we can come back this way, don’t we need a key?” Father Oein said.

 

“Knock,” the ghoul said. “Knock loudly.”

 

“But I don’t want those other boys to hear it,” Joell said.

 

“They don’t come this way. This is our way.”

 

“Oh, okay.”

 

They exited the mausoleum to find themselves in what they guessed was Swan Point Cemetery.

 

“There you are,” the ghoul said. “Enjoy.”

 

Joell suggested someone who wasn’t seeing double should get the name on the mausoleum. It was Whipple. The ghoul laughed and looked at the name on the mausoleum.

 

“That was my name too,” it whispered to them.

 

“Gabriel Whipple,” Joseph said.

 

The creature crept back into the crypt, gave them a last look, and winked. Joell winked back.

 

“If you ever want us, go to basements and call,” it said.

 

The door closed and the lock clicked shut. They could hear the grinding of stone from within.

 

“I don’t have a basement,” Joell muttered.

 

“You don’t need to call,” Joseph said.

 

They could see the wall between the cemetery and the carnival and even the shadows of the roller coaster. They saw the river nearby as well.

 

“Hey boys, this is fun and all, but I might need to see a doctor,” Joell said.

 

“Get that guy a doctor,” Father Oein said.

 

* * *

 

Miss Fairfield took Joell to the Rhode Island Hospital that night and a doctor looked at the terrible bruise on his head. He gave them a prescription for the pain and bound up the wound as best he could. He recommended the man return in a week. It cost her about $50 for the treatment. The sedatives actually helped him to finally sleep.

 

* * *

 

On Monday, May 21, 1928, Bricker, Miss Fairfield, and Father Oein researched Gabriel Whipple the entirety of the day. Miss Fairfield and Father Oein learned he had been one of the earliest settlers of Providence in the late 17th century. It was said he came from Salem Massachusetts in 1692, just before the Salem Witch Trials. He was a loner who was related to other Whipples in town. He was rich, a philanthropist who gave a lot of money to the town. It noted he was friends with Joseph Curwen, a man said to be of less than savory reputation.

 

Whipple disappeared in 1705 and was declared dead in 1715. His house and his belongings were divided up amongst his surviving relatives. The house no longer existed as it had fallen into ruins and destroyed. It had actually been in what was now Pawtucket. The mausoleum was put up by his family.

 

Miss Fairfield remembered the creature claimed he had gone to the first college in America. Brown University had been founded in 1764 and was originally called Rhode Island College. That didn’t fit the timeline for Gabriel Whipple. However, a little research did reveal the first college in America was Harvard, founded in 1636.

 

* * *

 

Joseph Johnson went to see his psychologist that day.

 

* * *

 

Joell visited the Providence Journal late in the day to talk to Miss Fairfield. He wanted to pay her back for the money she’d spent on him at the hospital.

 

“Thank you,” he said. “I was in bad shape. Here’s the money I owe you.”

 

“You don’t owe me anything,” she said.

 

“I’m not going to … nope. It doesn’t work like that.”

 

“Oh honey, just take her out to lunch or something,” the secretary at the front desk told him.

 

“I … I mean … I’m not going to be in debt to you,” he said, taking her out of earshot of the secretary. “I’m going to pay you back.”

 

“It was my idea to take you to the hospital and to pay for it,” Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Are you sure? One hundred percent.”

 

“Yes. Go buy yourself a new coat.”

 

“All right.”







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