Roadkill Part 3 - The House of Death
CoC 1-6e Jazz Age
Dr. Blake and Nurse Daughton went out into the pouring rain, using their umbrellas to protect them as best they could. They didn’t take any candles outside as the wind would blow them out almost immediately. They went to the Cadillac that was parked not far from the house and opened up the hood, but neither of them was very familiar with automobile engines. Nurse Daughton wondered if a metal box on the engine might have been an explosive device. She just wasn’t sure.
She pointed at the box.
“That’s going to blow up if we start this car,” she said with certainty.
“What?” Dr. Blake said. “That’s ridiculous. It just looks like an engine.”
“I dunno. That box … I don’t like this. I’m not gonna … if you like blowing up, have fun. But I’m not.”
“Maybe we could see if Zippy could check it.”
“Zippy doesn’t want to come out here. He has a phobia of trees.”
“I know. But who else is gonna check it? We can’t ask the crazy guys to.”
Nurse Daughton went to the window.
“Zippy?” she said.
“Yeah?” the man replied from inside the room.
“If I give you very specific directions, can you come out here?” she said.
There was silence from within.
“Because I’m pretty sure there’s a box in here that could explode,” Nurse Daughton said. “She says it won’t. But we need a third opinion. This could depend on whether we leave now or not.”
Zippy agreed and climbed out of the window, looking at the ground.
“Just don’t let me look at ‘em,” he said. “But you look at ‘em!”
“Oh yeah,” she replied. “I’ll keep watch. I know what you’re talking about.”
“You … you’ve seen … the hooves?” Zippy said.
“Let’s just say I’ve been through a lot,” Nurse Daughton said.
She led him to the Cadillac while he kept his eyes closed as the rain came down and thunder and lightning crashed around. It was unnerving but he kept his terror of trees together until they got to the automobile. He looked over the engine but was unsure if it might be rigged to explode and wasn’t sure what the box was that was attached to the automobile. Dr. Blake noticed the screws on the box but none of them had a screwdriver.
Dr. Blake suggested pressing the starter button from a distance to see what happened. Nurse Daughton pointed out that a dynamite explosion was huge and very deadly. Zippy suggested if they weren’t sure and both of the men were unable to use the car, perhaps they had some kind of phobia of electricity, which made sense given their living conditions. He pointed out it was odd of them to have a car with an electric starter should that be the case.
Nurse Daughton reiterated she was not going to start the car.
Zippy noted he did not think they were too far gone not to rig the car to explode, pointing out that the little guy had come into their room with a knife. He suggested they stay dry for the night, wait for the rain to pass, and try to use the car tomorrow or leave some other way.
Nurse Daughton noticed a light in the foyer that went out abruptly. She could see the candlelight was still there.
“Our candles were in there,” Nurse Daughton said to herself.
She turned to the others.
“This car’s not safe,” she said. “A light was just in the window.”
Dr. Blake knelt down and looked under the car. Everything looked fine under there.
“Are you sure you want to do that?” Nurse Daughton said.
“What happened?” Dr. Blake said, standing back up.
“A light went out in the window that’s not ours.”
“Okay. It could be one of the crazy guys.”
“He could be looking and seeing what we’re doing. I couldn’t tell which one it was.”
“All right,” Zippy said. “Here’s the deal. I think your plan, looking for the book, is what I wanna go with.”
“That was my plan,” Nurse Daughton said.
“What?” Zippy said. “I don’t remember.”
“It was both of our plans, technically,” Dr. Blake said.
“Both plans,” Zippy said.
“Which book are you talking about?” Dr. Blake said. “Humans and Others or …”
“Humans and Others,” Zippy said.
He suggested they search the house for that. He guessed four bullets was enough if two psychos attacked them. Nurse Daughton confirmed she had six bullets in her pistol. Zippy said he thought they’d be all right if they stayed together.
“Wait a second,” Dr. Blake said.
“Shouldn’t we go back to our car first?” Nurse Daughton said.
“Don’t you have extra guns or ammo or whatever in your stuff?” Dr. Blake asked.
“Yes,” Nurse Daughton said.
“Oh, hell yeah,” Zippy said.
“Maybe we should go get some before we go back in there,” Dr. Blake said.
“Wasn’t that far away but it is muddy,” Nurse Daughton said.
“Should I bring in … the big guns?” Zippy asked.
“Might as well,” Nurse Daughton said.
“Yes!” Dr. Blake said.
“I’m gonna need some help getting it out,” Zippy said.
“I’ll come with you and help get the extra stuff,” Dr. Blake said.
“If you can get my bullets,” Nurse Daughton said.
“I can do that,” Dr. Blake said.
“If you’re going to stay alone, be alert,” Zippy said.
Zippy and Dr. Blake headed down the driveway at a quick walk, slipping and falling in the mud and getting soaking and filthy. They continued on down the road and reached the motorcar amid the crashes and roar of thunder. At one point, Zippy thought he saw something in the bushes but it was gone when he looked more closely.
In the pouring rain, they opened up the trunk.
“There’s someone out here!” Zippy said. “Help me get this up and running!”
He had to hold the umbrella while instructing her on how to attach the 50-round drum to the Thompson sub-machinegun. He also instructed her on pulling back the bolt handle to put a bullet in the chamber. Dr. Blake recovered Nurse Daughton’s box of bullets. They also recovered an additional 20 bullets for Zippy’s pistol and he handed over his pistol to the woman, instructing her on how to load it. She put two more bullets in.
They headed back to the house.
* * *
After the others left, Nurse Daughton looked around. The light was still in the room that they’d left, she thought. She crept to the window as thunder crashed and rain poured down. She put down her umbrella as she got to the window was about to climb in when she noticed one of the closet doors was ajar. The light from the candle on the table threw a shadow into the cloakroom. She watched it very closely as she climbed in and was horrified when she saw a double barrel stick out. There was a blast from the shotgun as thunder crashed outside.
The buckshot struck her in the right arm, tearing away much of the skin and muscle, ripping through her right side and blasting her out the window, dead almost before she hit the ground.
* * *
When Zippy and Dr. Blake got back to the house, they saw Nurse Daughton on the ground outside the window.
“What the zip!?!” Zippy said.
“Oh my gosh!” Dr. Blake said. “How could that happen?”
“We need to find out where that came from.”
“Yeah, I know. It obviously came from somewhere in that room so we really can’t go in that way anymore.”
Zippy was no detective but recognized the wound as typical of buckshot from a shotgun. He peeked into the room.
“Can’t see zip in there,” he said.
“I don’t know,” Dr. Blake said. “We can’t go in that way. There has to be another way to get in there.”
“We could try to break in through another window.”
“We could make a scene.”
“We could do that but we’re in the middle of nowhere. Who’s going to come after us? Oh wait … you were talking about … you know what? I don’t know what else we can do.”
He peeked in the room again, as did Dr. Blake. She noticed one of the cloakroom doors was wide open. She told Zippy. He peeked in and then fired a short burst into the closet. He quickly climbed into the window and looked in the closet. There was nothing there but a few coats with bullet holes in them, dust, shadows, cobwebs, and several bits of broken glass.
“Whoever was in there is gone,” he said to Dr. Blake.
“Okay,” she replied.
“We really gotta find these two now. One of ‘em is guilty. One of ‘em came at us with a knife.”
“One of them killed Miss Daughton.”
The door to the connecting hall opened and the taller man stood there. Both of them aimed their weapons at him.
“Oh!” he cried out. “Oh goodness! You are here to rob me!”
“No, we’re not!” Dr. Blake said.
“What is all this noise?”
“There’s a corpse outside!” Zippy said.
Dr. Norris gasped.
“A corpse?” he said. “Oh no!”
“You remember the three of us?” Zippy said.
The man looked at each of them carefully.
“There was one woman that was yelling at me,” he finally said. “She yelled at me a lot.”
“Yeah, bet you didn’t like that, did you?” Zippy said.
“I didn’t. I don’t like being yelled at.”
“You said you owned a gun, sir?”
“You did,” Dr. Blake said. “I remember.”
“There’s a … there’s a rifle,” Dr. Norris said. “It’s in the study.”
He looked off as if remembering.
“And you just went to your study, sir,” Zippy said.
“Yeah,” Dr. Blake said.
“I believe the rifle’s still there,” Dr. Norris said. “Let’s go and look!”
“No!” Zippy said.
“No!” Dr. Blake said.
But it was too late. Dr. Norris turned, seemingly oblivious to the two weapons pointed at him, and walked down the hallway.
“How many shots do you have in that gun?” Dr. Blake asked Zippy.
“A lot,” Zippy replied.
Dr. Norris turned into the room on the right.
“He’s getting the gun!” Zippy said.
“I know,” Dr. Blake said. “I can tell.”
“We gotta fire first! Let’s go.”
“Stay behind me.”
“I got it.”
They went to the connecting corridor and into the door on the right. It opened into a study, barely lit by the coals from the fireplace that dominated the far wall and the lit candle Dr. Blake had snatched from the table in the foyer. Centered about the fireplace was a portrait depicting a stately-looking gentleman who resembled Dr. Norris, who walked towards the fireplace. Brass candle holders graced the walls. An expensive-looking rifle was mounted over the fireplace under the portrait. Three overstuffed chairs took up most of the room.
Dr. Norris walked towards the rifle.
“Sir, you better stop right there!” Zippy said.
“There’s the gun,” Dr. Norris said, not even looking back. “It’s the gun, right here. The rifle. Right here. There it is.”
He walked up to the fireplace and looked at it more carefully.
“That’s a rifle all right,” he said. “That’s a rifle. A rifle.”
“Okay,” Dr. Blake said.
“It was father’s gun,” the man said.
“Should I …?” Dr. Blake whispered to Zippy.
“I never actually fired it,” Dr. Norris said, as much to himself as to the two of them.
“That at least wasn’t the gun that killed Daughton,” Zippy told her.
“Okay,” Dr. Blake said.
Dr. Norris continued to examine the rifle.
“It’s there all right,” he said, finally turned back around. “It’s there.
He seemed to notice they were pointing firearms at him for the first time.
“Oh dear,” he said, raising his arms. “I’m sorry.”
“Why don’t you take us to your friend who lives here?” Zippy said.
“Hymes,” Dr. Blake said.
Dr. Norris looked suddenly terrified.
“No!” he said. “No! He’ll try and kill me. You don’t understand, he’s mad! He’s quite mad!”
“All right, if he tries to kill you, I’ll kill him,” Zippy said.
“No! No! You wouldn’t be able to. He’s too fast! He’s little, you see. He’s a little man and he runs so quick.”
“Is he faster than a bullet!?!”
“Does he have gills?”
“I think … does … not that I know of, no.”
“Does he have gills?” Dr. Blake said. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“I’m going to have to agree with your friend here,” Dr. Norris said to Zippy. “What?”
“He’s gonna have to be pretty special to outrun this!” Zippy said, hefting the Thompson sub-machinegun.
“So, having gills makes you special?” Dr. Norris said, feeling at his own neck.
“Of course it does!” Dr. Blake said. “Normally, people don’t have gills.”
“Look, he can’t be so ridiculous that he can outrun this, is what I mean,” Zippy said.
“Gills sound painful,” Dr. Norris said, his gaze in the middle distance.
“How did you get through medical school?” Dr. Blake said.
The man’s gaze turned towards her and he glared.
“I got through medical school!” he growled. “I am a doctor! I’m a medical doctor. I’ve practiced.”
“Name one of your professors!” Zippy suddenly said.
“Uh … Dr. Brown,” the distracted man replied. “Dr. Brown was one of my professors. Emilio Brown. I went to college in-in-in Chicago. I went to Chicago to get … and I finished! And I am a doctor! How dare you! How dare you imply anything else! Who are you!?! You strange man with a broken arm and you’re a woman! What’ve you got to say about anything! Keep your wife in check, sir!”
“Uh … we’re not married,” Dr. Blake said.
“But you’re staying in the same room?” Dr. Norris said. “Infidelity? Fornication!”
He looked at them disapprovingly as if disgusted by them.
“All right, show us your book, sir,” Zippy said.
“What book?” the angry Dr. Norris replied.
“Humans and Others,” Zippy said. “We know the title.”
“That is … that is my book. And you are trespassing on my property.”
“And there’s a corpse outside your lawn and I’m a policeman.”
“I have yet to see this corpse.”
“You wanna take a look?”
“I can look in the morning.”
“You can look right now,” Dr. Blake said, pointing her pistol at him again.
“Thieves and robbers!” Dr. Norris said. “Brigands! Bandits! That’s all you are. You are nothing but terrible people. I hope Hymes takes his … does terrible things to you!”
“I just want to shoot him,” Dr. Blake whispered to Zippy.
“Why is he trying to kill you anyway?” Dr. Norris said. “He usually has a good reason! What have you done?”
“What’s his reason for you?” Zippy said. “If he usually has a good reason?”
“He’s mad, I tell you,” Dr. Norris said more quietly. “He’s quite mad.”
“If he’s mad─” Dr. Blake said.
“Quite mad!” Dr. Norris said.
“If he’s mad then why would he need a reason?” Dr. Blake said.
“He usually has a reason,” Dr. Norris said.
“If you don’t start cooperating─” Zippy said.
“He just wants to kill me because of jealousy!” Dr. Norris said. “Jealousy, I say. He’s jealous that I’m a doctor. That I’ve found things out that most men can’t─”
“Then why do you live with him?”
“Why choice have I? How can you escape from someone like Hymes? You look around and there he is. He’s peeking at you over a table. Perhaps he’s got on a train and he’s followed you all the way to Mexico and then he’s just waiting for you there. Do you know how unnerving that is!?!”
“He’s been hiding in his room for most of our stay,” Dr. Blake said.
“Is he in his room right now?” Dr. Norris said. “How would you even know!?! He keeps the door locked, doesn’t he. He might not be anywhere. He might be right behind you now, sir!”
Dr. Blake looked behind them. No one was there.
“But he could’ve been!” Dr. Norris said. “You looked! You looked ‘cause you know.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “‘Cause you know he’s a mad little man. Mad little man.”
He took a breath.
“And here I was, just waiting,” he went on. “Waiting for my dogs to return. I don’t know where they are. It’s quite distressing. But, I’m sure they’ll come home. They always come home. I’m sure they’ll come home. I like to pet them when I’m sitting in my chair.”
He gestured towards one of the chairs in the room.
“But Hymes,” he said, eyes wide. “Hymes. He’s mad. He’s quite mad, you know.”
He sat down in his chair.
“That man in the portrait,” Dr. Blake said. “Who is he?”
“That?” Dr. Norris said, looking at the painting. “That’s my father! Pft. What’s wrong with you? That is my father. Victor Norris. Don’t you know anything!?!”
“Of course I know things!”
“Oh, you silly woman. Don’t even talk to me!”
“I’m going to shoot him,” Dr. Black muttered to Zippy.
“And you sir, don’t point that thing at me!” Dr. Norris went on. “You … you … gimp!”
“What did you call me?” Zippy said.
“You … you are some kind of … mutant! Some kind of degenerate!”
“I’m Angelo Zippy Giovanni! I’m twice the man you’ll ever be! Even with half the arms!”
“You went to medical school? You learned how to dissect? You vivisected?”
The two men glared at each other.
“No, my friend, no,” Dr. Norris said. “What you should be looking for his Hymes. He’s dangerous.”
“Then take us to him,” Zippy said.
“I don’t know where he is. He’s so small. He hides in tiny, tiny corners. He waits. Don’t trust him. Don’t trust him.”
“And we should trust you?” Dr. Blake said.
“Did I say that?” Dr. Norris said. “My goodness woman! You’re so stupid! Please! Excuse yourself from my sight. I am sickened by your sight.”
“Okay, if you say one more thing about me being a woman, I’m going to shoot you.”
He looked at her carefully.
“Is she not a woman?” he said to Zippy. “Why does she take offense at that?”
“I take offense at you calling me stupid!” Dr. Blake said.
“Well then, don’t be stupid!” he said. “Hmph!”
He stared at the fire.
“All right, I’m gonna count to three,” Zippy said. “You’re gonna start taking us through your house, showing us everything there is, ‘cause there’s a corpse on your lawn─”
“I still haven’t seen this said corpse,” Dr. Norris said.
“Then you’re going to go with me to it.”
“Just go and do what you will. I don’t need to take you anywhere! You’re just a thief! I know your kind. You’re a foreigner! Oh yes, I know what kind of people you are! Living those degenerate lives! Inbreeding and giving yourself mutilations! Huh!”
“All right, you can talk zip about me! You don’t get to say things about my family!”
He fired a shot near Dr. Norris, which whizzed right near the man. Dr. Norris shrieked, dropping out of his chair to his knees.
“Oh God!” he cried out, covering his head with hands. “No! No! You’re here to murder me! You work for Hymes! No! No!”
“This guy isn’t going to cooperate,” Zippy said.
“No, he’s not,” Dr. Blake said.
“I say you grab the gun to make sure he doesn’t come after us with it, and let’s explore the house,” Zippy said.
“All right,” Dr. Blake said.
She crossed the room and took the rifle off the wall. Dr. Norris flinched away from her when she walked by him. She returned to Zippy and asked him how to open it. Zippy showed her and they found no bullets in the gun.
“If it’s empty then it’s not a threat,” she said.,
“Unless he has bullets stashed away,” Zippy said.
“Just go!” Dr. Norris shrieked. “Go! Go! Don’t let Hymes in! Close the door behind you!”
She took the gun to the foyer and tossed it out into the mud near Nurse Daughton’s corpse.
“Close the door!” Dr. Norris screamed at them. “Please! Please just close the door!”
They closed the door to the hall and opened another door in the room that led to a sitting room at the front of the house. A healthy layer of dust lay over the finely-made couches and chairs. Rat droppings were evident on the floor and the two large, bay windows were covered with thick crimson curtains. They saw a rat scuttle across the rug and flee from the candlelight.
They returned to the connecting hallway and tried the door leading to the back of the house. It opened into a dining room. A small table sat crowded at one end of the room. Dishes were piled on it haphazardly with half-eaten bits of food scattered about at random. A gargantuan chandelier hung from the middle of the ceiling, covered in cobwebs. The rest of the room was conspicuously bare. Another door was in the wall across the room.
They crossed the room to the door there, which led to a dim and dirty kitchen. Flour, sugar, salt, and other common food stables were on the shelves, stored in small bins. A brown, wide-mouthed bottle was labeled “vinegar.” The ice box stood against one wall and an obvious exterior door was to the right. Another door to the left led deeper into the house.
“That’s probably a closet, I’d guess,” Zippy said.
“Open it,” Dr. Blake said.
They both remembered there was light coming from basement windows on that side of the house. They’d seen it every time they’d approached the house.
“It could lead to a basement,” Dr. Blake said.
“Ready?” Zippy said.
“Uh … well … I suppose so,” Dr. Blake said.
Zippy found the door locked. Dr. Blake suggested he kick it down. Zippy was unsure if he was strong enough.
“Well, I’m certainly strong enough to,” he said. “I’ll give it a shot.”
He put his shoulder to the door and was not ready for the snap of the lock as it broke under the pressure and sent him tumbling down the stairs beyond. He crashed to the bottom.
“Zippy!” Dr. Blake called. “Are you okay?”
“I’m really strong,” Zippy called back up. “I’m really strong.”
He had hurt himself falling down the stairs but had not broken anything.
“I’m really strong,” he said again.
“I can see that,” she called down the stairs.
“Oh Jesus,” he said.
She walked slowly down the stairs.
“Zippy, are you okay?” Dr. Blake asked.
“Oh, I’m great,” he said. “I’m amazing. Just like always.”
Then he saw the potted plant at the bottom of the steps.
“No!” he cried out.
The plant was strange with a thick stalk that led to a large, bulbous section with almost the visage of a face about it. Then it opened its eyes, staring around bug-eyed, and mouth, the latter in an eerily silent scream. It looked like the merger of a human head with a gigantic Venus flytrap. Dr. Blake pointed her gun at it. One of the little Venus flytrap appendages snapped at Zippy, missing him where he lay.
Zippy crawled desperately away. Dr. Blake blasted away at the thing. The first bullet struck the cement basement floor and ricocheted, lodging in the unfinished ceiling. Her second shot crashed into the wooden railing on the steps, splintering the wood. She continued down the steps.
The plant merely looked at the two of them with bugged out eyes.
“Man, you really popped off when you saw that thing,” Zippy said as she reached the bottom of the stairs, giving the plant a wide berth.
“It’s freaky!” she said. “I mean, look at it!”
“Oh, I’m not disappointed,” Zippy said.
“It’s just … uh … gosh …” she said. “This is why I decided not to go into biology.”
They both finally looked around and saw the small basement was packed with things. Nearest to the stairs was a large oak dining table covered with bloodstains and bits of bone and gristle. Several surgical tools lay on it as well. A tool rack and table were both nearby. A large desk and two bookshelves were about 10 feet away, clustered together further in the room. In front of one of the bookshelves was a bookstand on wheels. A book lay open on the bookstand.
“I’m no genius … well, actually I kind of am a genius,” Dr. Blake said.
“Hey, I’m pretty smart too!” Zippy said.
“But this is probably where the book is,” Dr. Blake said.
“Uh … yeah,” Zippy said.
Dr. Blake walked over to the bookstand. The open book was bloodstained and she flipped to the front, noting it was written and not a printed book. The book itself was a bound and lined composition book of some kind. The experiment the page was open to seemed to connect certain types of life forms to other types of life forms.
Then the midget stepped out from behind the bookcases. He had a sawed-off double barrel shotgun in his hands, pointing it at Dr. Blake She screamed and backed away from the book.
“It’s mine!” he muttered. “It’s mine! It’s mine! It’s mine!”
Across the room, Zippy leveled his Thompson sub-machinegun at the midget and opened fire, firing a short burst at the little man. Only one of the bullets actually hit the man, grazing him. The little man turned and fired a blast at Zippy, riddling him with buckshot despite the range. The policeman was far enough away that the blast hurt him badly but didn’t kill him.
Dr. Blake leveled her pistol at the midget and panic-fired. The bullet struck one of the bookshelves next to the midget. He ignored the woman and fired his second shot at Zippy, the blast struck the ceiling over Zippy’s head and dust, debris, and broken wood fell on the man. Dr. Blake fired a second shot which also missed, the bullet flying over the midget’s head.
“Shoot him!” Dr. Blake screamed.
Zippy aimed his Thompson as the midget, who was trying to get behind the bookcases. He planned to fire a longer burst but the Thompson only fired a single bullet before it jammed with a terrible crunch. The bullet struck the midget in the shoulder and he fell with a squeal.
“We should probably try to restrain him so he can’t attack us again,” Dr. Blake said.
“If he’s even still breathing,” Zippy said.
Dr. Blake crept over to the little man but found him dead, blood pooling around him. Then she heard footsteps above.
“Zippy! Turn around!” she shouted.
Dr. Norris came down the basement steps.
“What is going on down here?” he cried out.
“Uh … we killed─” Dr. Blake said.
“What is going on?”
“Hymes! He’s dead!”
“What? How did he die!?!”
“Uh … um …”
“Turns out when you pull a shotgun on a cop, it doesn’t go well,” Zippy said.
“Murder?” Dr. Norris cried out. “It was murder, you say? Murder!”
He ran up the steps screaming “Murder!”
“Well, I suppose that takes care of him,” Dr. Blake said.
“Borkie!” they heard the man yell. “Mooftus! Where are you!?!”
“There’s no way to call the police,” Dr. Blake said.
“He doesn’t have a phone,” Zippy said.
“I know. That’s why I said there’s no way to call the police.”
“We need to get all the evidence we can from down here and let’s try to see who’s guilty.”
“If we need to restrain him too.”
Dr. Blake went to the desk, stepping over the body of the midget. On top of the desk was a file with several diagrams and notes on the construction of two dogs connected by the tentacle. Apparently both heads were removed and the tentacle replaced them, connecting the two dogs into one entity.
“That is disgusting!” Dr. Blake said. “Who would do something like this with science!”
They found an exhaustive collection of books on the shelves on human anatomy and physiology as well as similar books on many types of animals. When she more closely examined the book on the bookstand, she found it was a partial translation of Humans and Others. Both the stand and many of the pages of the book were spattered with blood. The floor was littered with bits and pieces of what might be the remains of other experiments.
The desk contained extensive files and notes compiled in the last nine years of Dr. Norris’ work. One of the drawers was locked.
Dr. Blake searched the midget and found a key but it wouldn’t open the door to the desk. They guessed it was a skeleton key to the house.
Unable to find something to use to pick the lock, Zippy used one of the heavier medical tools to lever open the desk drawer. Within was a strange item. It was made of five-sided metal disks decorated on the edges with strange symbols and stacked on a rod. When they removed the disks, they found anatomical pictures on the sides of them. She guessed that the device was what Dr. Norris had translated.
“I think this notebook is the translation of this book,” she told Zippy. “If we could find someone who knows this language, they could help us. Because this looks like nothing I’ve ever seen. Gosh. I’m not sure what to do now. Dr. Norris … I’m pretty sure …”
She suggested going to the man’s house they were originally heading for. Zippy pointed out they’d be slogging through the mud. She felt it was the best course of action. He noted they would be showing up without Miss Daughton.
“Whoever did the experiments here, that midget probably killed Miss Daughton,” Zippy said. “And he came at us with a knife.”
“Probably,” Dr. Blake said.
She told him about the notes on top of the desk and the strange dog-hybrid. Zippy pointed out the man was going for his dogs. He was unsure if Dr. Norris was crazy and not in on it or if he was in on it but still too crazy to realize what was going on and going after the hybrid thing. Dr. Blake thought the midget was Dr. Norris but Zippy pointed out the house was sized for bigger people. She noted if he was Dr. Norris, the house was technically his and guessed the larger man might have been his brother. Zippy mentioned the painting upstairs. She guessed if the midget was Dr. Norris, he might have a deformity and the larger man might be his brother. But she was unsure.
“Maybe the family became …” Zippy said, pointing at the plant.
They continued speculating, Dr. Blake wondering if the midget had been a child of the family, a deformed son that the family might have hidden him away, sending the non-deformed son to medical school. She guessed he found the book and gave it to his brother, making the two of them in it together.
Dr. Blake took the strange book and the translation and they headed upstairs, making their way to the door at the end of the hallway where the midget had gone before. The key opened up the door. The room proved to have a large oak desk, a chest of drawers, and an immense canopied bed with thick black curtains. A closet door was slightly ajar. Clothes lay scattered about the floor and an ax stood in one corner.
A quick search of the room revealed several interesting things. In a drawer of the desk, there was a newspaper article from the St. Paul Courier dated July 6, 1919. She read it out loud:
Norris Family Murders
St. Paul, MN―Tragedy gripped the small town of Billinglsy this week when the entire
Norris family was found slain in their estate home last Sunday.
The family was done in by one person, who probably wielded a knife, said Sheriff
Wilbur Jenkins. Unusual was the fact that many of the stab wounds were inflicted to
the lower portions of the body. Leslie Norris was found missing both feet.
No suspects are in custody, though the police are searching for several of the family
servants for questioning. Five were killed in all, including Victor Norris, the Patriarch
of the clan.
Albert Norris is the only surviving family member, and is currently studying medicine
in Chicago. He is unavailable for comment.
“This corroborates the taller one’s innocence,” Zippy said.
“Yeah,” Dr. Blake said.
“I kind of feel bad I almost shot that guy.”
“But he is a little messed up.”
“He might have been driven insane by the death of his family.”
“True. And he was living in the same house with the … man who killed them. It said they were stabbed in the lower part?”
“Sounds like our little friend with a knife came to some people.”
“Sounds like Hymes.”
“That makes sense with the stab wounds on the bed. The blood.”
“Do you think Dr. Norris could have let Hymes in on what he was doing? Maybe Hymes could have used that to blackmail him.”
“Although that still doesn’t explain why he was kicked out of medical school.”
They also found a lumpy burlap bag at the bottom of the closet.
“You open it!” Dr. Blake said, handing it to him.
“Ah great,” he said. “Thanks. I’m real … your faith in me is … invigorating.”
He opened it up. There appeared to be a mass of human fingers. When he looked more closely, he saw they were sewn together like a spider’s legs. It was as if someone was trying to create a finger spider.
“What’s in there?” Dr. Blake said.
Zippy just shook his head and put it back in the closet.
“Do I just not want to know?” Dr. Blake asked.
“You do not want to know,” Zippy said.
“Okay, I’ll take your word for it,” she said.
They discussed what little they had learned. They didn’t know anything about the Norris Family or why Albert Norris got kicked out of medical school. Zippy wondered why he defended Hymes. They theorized Dr. Norris was as mad as Hymes said he was. Zippy thought he had used the book and maybe that got him kicked out of school.
Dr. Blake was of the opinion they should wait until morning and then contact the police. Zippy wondered about the dogs. They discussed where to spend the night. Zippy refused to stay in the room with the bag and so they ended up staying in the foyer for the rest of the night.
* * *
It stopped raining but was very overcast on the morning of Wednesday, September 26, 1928. They heard movement in the house sometime after dawn. Dr. Blake had stayed awake all night but Zippy fell asleep at some point. She woke him when she heard movement.
“Trees?” Zippy said. “Are the trees moving?”
“It’s not the trees it’s from in the house,” she said. “Let’s go ahead and get out of here.”
They climbed back out the window and got onto the road to head north to William Rogers’ house. Unfortunately, the bridge just north had been washed out by the rushing river. Dr. Blake suggested going back to Billingsly. Zippy asked about the luggage. They discussed what to do, talking about using Dr. Norris’ car to go back to Billingsly.
In the end, they decided to walk back to Billingsly, stopping at their rental car to put the Thompson away. It took them a couple hours to walk back to town and they were able to use the telephone at the Bluewater Café to call the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Department. It took some time for a deputy to arrive and when he did, they told him their story of the insanity in the house and the midget who attacked them twice and murdered the woman they were traveling with.
He drove them back to the Norris estate in his little older-model Ford Model-T Runabout two-seater. It was a tight squeeze for all three of them in the tiny vehicle but they made due. They found the car wreck with the dead dog smashed into the engine and then went to the house. They found Nurse Daughton’s corpse lying in the mud.
They found Dr. Norris in the study.
“I’m so worried about my dogs,” he told them sincerely. “I haven’t gone to look for them yet but it’s so muddy.”
They found the dead midget in the basement. When the deputy saw the plant, his eyes went wide.
“That’s interesting,” he said, walking out of the basement without a word.
They followed him out of the house to his motorcar and he fetched a gas can that was strapped to the running board. He returned to the house, went into the basement, doused the plant in a good amount of gasoline and lit it on fire with a match, staring at the terrible thing the whole time.
The basement and kitchen filled with smoke and he calmly went up and opened the windows in the dining room and the back door in the kitchen. He returned to the basement and kicked over the pot before leaving the basement. Then he went to talk to Dr. Norris. As the man seemed quite mad, the deputy cuffed him despite his protests. He asked the two of them to wait with the man while he drove back to Billingsly for another motorcar and some more men.
He returned within an hour accompanied by another car with two more deputies. They searched the house, removed the bodies, and wrapped them up in blankets. Both corpses were taken away and another motorcar arrived. Zippy and Dr. Blake were separated and questioned about the events of the terrible evening.
Dr. Norris was taken away and they were told he’d received psychiatric treatment and would be taken to a sanitarium.
Dr. Blake had been told they had hit a dog by Nurse Daughton. She remembered the notes talked about cutting the heads off two dogs and connecting the bodies with a tentacle of some kind. She realized they had struck the double dog, tearing it apart. That also explained why the dog had crashed through the front of the motorcar. She guessed the second dog was ripped free during the impact. It was a very disturbing thought.
It took them the whole of the day to deal with the situation.
* * *
Zippy and Dr. Blake were able to get another rental car in the county seat of Aitkin the next day, Thursday, September 27, 1928. It was a very old model and in poor shape but it got them to William Rogers house on Rice Lake. They met with William Rogers, who was a little leery until they told him Nurse Daughton had been killed by the midget at the Norris house. In the end, they were able to look at the book, which was in Latin, and, according to Rogers, titled The Black Book of Shub-Niggurath. He only knew some Latin and had read some of it but found it too disturbing to read far.
The book was eight inches by 11 inches and one and a half inches thick. There were 368 pages.
Rogers was willing to sell it to them but noted it was fairly rare. He wanted to know what she was willing to pay for it. Dr. Blake offered him $20 and he noted he paid more than that. When she asked Zippy, he said he had $40. Rogers told them he’d sell it to them for $100. He was even willing to take a check. Zippy took out his checkbook and wrote him a check. He handed over the book to them. Zippy gave it to Dr. Blake in the hopes she could have it translated.
They took the rental back to Aitkin and were able to get a train back to St. Paul. While Zippy traveled onto Providence, Dr. Blake went to Chicago, stopping at the University of Chicago.
She learned Albert Norris didn’t graduate and was not a doctor. He hadn’t even finished pre-med. She ran into a wall when it came to finding out why and tried to find friends or classmates without luck. She had more success talking to the professors though they were loath to talk about it. It took her a week in Chicago but she was finally able to persuade one of the professors to talk about the man. She learned he was discharged from the college because he was pursuing strange and unethical scientific experiments in biology, combining different types of animals. She learned there was talk but no proof his using human body parts for various unethical experiments, connecting them to other body parts in an attempt to create new life. The professor told her all his theories and experiments were flawed. The experiments took over everything for him and the man was obviously mentally unhinged. He was eventually expelled for such perversions.
When she compared the timelines of his strange experiments, it fit with the dates after he found the strange book in the journal. It was the summer of his third year of college when he started to act strange. Though not brilliant as a physician before that, it had been thought he would have made a competent doctor, at least.
She returned to Providence.