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Roadkill Part 2 - Two Madmen

Posted by Max_Writer , in Call of Cthulhu, Campaign Log 08 May 2017 · 261 views

CoC 1-6e Jazz Age

* * *

 

Dr. Blake had very strange dreams. She was being led through her house by several midgets. It was dark and stormy out and she realized, in the strange logic of dreams, that she didn’t actually live there. They led her to her own guest room in her house but they didn’t leave, just walked around the room and stared at her. It was unsettling.

 

* * *

 

Zippy dreamt about the trees. He was peeking out of the windows of the house they were staying in. He kept going to the windows to peek outside. However, every single time he looked out and saw a tree in a flash of lightning, when the light next came, the tree was gone. He went from window to window, trying to see a tree that wouldn’t disappear. Then he found himself running through the corridor looking for a gun. The corridors just connected to other corridors however, seemingly endlessly.

 

He found bedrooms, one with their smashed up car within.

 

They’re coming! he thought. They’re coming!

 

* * *

 

Nurse Daughton dreamt about being back at the altar near Aylesbury, the man wrapped up in vines atop it. However, it wasn’t him wrapped up suddenly, but the little girl who they’d saved. She didn’t think that happened. Instead of just watching her die, she tried to stop it, pulling at the vines and trying to get her free while 10 versions of the child molester she’d watched die on the altar circled around her, holding hands. She tried to find her gun but couldn’t, so attacked the man. She punched him but didn’t seem to hurt them. She went back to save the screaming girl and suddenly saw a river going through the altar. Then she saw a chair leaning sideways against the altar.

 

She realized she was not dreaming anymore. Her eyes had opened but some kind of liquid was flowing under the door of the room. It appeared to be a soupy mass about the size of a cat with a consistency that varied between smooth and slimy and thick and chunky.

 

She leapt up and went to Zippy, waking him up.

 

“The trees!” he called out, thrashing around as he woke. “The trees!”

 

Dr. Blake also awoke, looking around.

 

“Where did the midgets go?” she asked sleepily. “There were so many of them …”

 

Nurse Daughton pointed at the door, unsure if she was still dreaming. The others all saw the slime sliding into the room. Zippy drew his pistol.

 

“Uh …” Dr. Blake mumbled.

 

They all felt their stomachs turn as the horrible stuff slid across the floor in the candlelight, meandering in their general direction. It seemed to move with, if not purpose, at least intelligence. Nurse Daughton snatched up the candle. She noticed it had shrunken appreciably and guessed she had fallen asleep for about an hour. As Dr. Blake stood on the bed, Nurse Daughton ran to the bureau and stood atop it, knocking off the gutted candle.

 

“Don’t touch it!” Nurse Daughton said. “Don’t touch it. Don’t touch it. We don’t know what it is. Get up here. Please.”

 

Zippy ran to the bureau and climbed atop it. The slime didn’t move directly towards them, Nurse Daughton realized. It was just moving around the room. She waved at Dr. Blake and watched the slime as it moved somewhat aimlessly in their direction. It oozed in and out of the darkest corners, moving throughout the room in a strange fashion. The trail of slime it left behind evaporated fairly quickly.

 

It finally went underneath the bureau Zippy and Nurse Daughton were standing upon. It did not come back out. Nurse Daughton put a hand on the man’s shoulder as he started shaking and looking around desperately. The thing didn’t come back out into the room, making Nurse Daughton a little more worried.

 

“This might be a good time to get out of here!” Dr. Blake whispered.

 

Nurse Daughton pointed underneath herself at the bureau.

 

“Should I shoot it?” Zippy whispered.

 

“It doesn’t seem to be doing much,” Nurse Daughton whispered.

 

The two of them watched the floor near the bureau. Nurse Daughton looked at the wall behind the piece of furniture.

 

“I don’t know what to do,” Dr. Blake whispered. “I got no weapon. Unless there’s a way to trap it.”

 

Zippy looked around the room as the women watched the base of the bureau. He didn’t see the thing anywhere. Thunder and lightning crashed outside. Nurse Daughton looked to see if anything was coming up between the bureau and the wall.

 

“Cover me,” Zippy said, touching her shoulder. “Cover me.”

 

He climbed off the bureau and slowly made his way over to the opposite wall. He noticed the chair was laying on the floor and pushed away from the partially opened door. He wondered if Nurse Daughton had done that. He looked around himself for the slime once again and then walked over to the door to close it.

 

As he grabbed the doorknob to push the door closed, there was a flash of lightning that partially illuminated the hallway. Just for a moment he saw the midget standing just outside the door with a large knife in his hand, smiling at him. Zippy let go of the door handle and shot the little man, the bullet striking him in the right hand and sending the knife flying. The little man screamed and raised his left hand as if to block but Zippy fired again and sent the second bullet through it. The midget shrieked again and ducked off to the left.

 

Zippy swung around to his left and saw the door at the end of the hallway slam shut. There was a lot of blood on the doorknob. He went back into the room.

 

“He had a knife!” he hissed at them.

 

“What?” Dr. Blake said. “He had a what?”

 

“He had a knife!”

 

“And he was standing right there?”

 

“My surprise is illustrated by the fact that I shot him twice.”

 

“I know. I heard you. Okay.”

 

Dr. Blake got off the bed and walked to Zippy.

 

“Did you see where he went?” she asked him.

 

“Yeah, he went down here on the left out the door,” Zippy said.

 

Still on the bureau, Nurse Daughton thought she heard a door open out in the hallway.

 

“He’s back!” she hissed.

 

Zippy pushed himself and Dr. Blake back against the wall and watched the door.

 

“Hello?” a voice they didn’t recognize called. “Is someone there?”

 

“Uh … who are you?” Dr. Blake called.

 

“Who are you?” the voice replied.

 

“We were invited by this little … man,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

They all heard footsteps approach down the hall. A man appeared in the light of the candle. He was of average height and wore round glasses and pajamas and robe. He had a mustache and goatee. His hair was short, brown, and tussled as if he’d been in bed. He was a little stout.

 

“Who are you people?” he said again.

 

“We were invited to stay here by Mr. Norris,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“I’m Doctor Norris,” the man said.

 

“Doctor Norris,” she corrected herself.

 

“What?” Zippy said.

 

“Wait,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“That’s me. I’m Dr. Norris.”

 

“Hey, wait, hold on!” Zippy said.

 

“Wait, you’re Dr. Norris?” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Who’s the little guy!?!” Zippy said.

 

“Then who’s the midget?” Dr. Blake said.

 

Dr. Norris looked uncomfortable for a moment.

 

“I think I have more a right to know who is in my house and why,” he said.

 

“We were invited by your─” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“My name is─” Dr. Blake said.

 

“… little Dr. Norris,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“All right. Our car crashed,” Zippy said. “Outside. We walked up. Came in. Little guy comes in, says he’s Dr. Norris. Let’s us in. Next thing you know, midnight, he comes into our room with a knife, grinning at me.”

 

Nurse Daughton nodded as the man spoke.

 

“And there it is,” she said. “On the floor.”

 

The man looked at them. He seemed confused.

 

“Your car crashed,” he said. “I see. Well. And you sought shelter here. I … understand. Yes. That’s … fine.”

 

“But if you’re …” Dr. Blake said.

 

“So, I suppose I should let you spend the night,” Dr. Norris said. “Why do you have guns? Why do you have a gun?”

 

Nurse Daughton pointed at the knife on the floor.

 

“Is this a robbery?” Dr. Norris said, raising his hands.

 

“No!” Zippy said.

 

“No!” Dr. Blake said. “No!”

 

“I’m an officer of the law, sir,” Zippy said.

 

“Oh,” the man said, lowering his arms. “Do you have a badge?”

 

Zippy slid his pistol in his pocket and pulled his badge out to show the man.

 

“I’m from Providence, sir,” he said.

 

“Well, what are the police doing all the way out here?” Dr. Norris asked. “This is Minnesota!”

 

“I’m off duty. I’m just escorting these women to a place they want to go. They wanted some safety and it’s something I’m interested in …”

 

“And you sought shelter here. I see. I see. Well, then you don’t need the guns.”

 

“Who’s the little man? Who’s the midget?”

 

“No. I … uh … I … uh … I think Hymes is plotting against me! That’s what I think. Well, have a nice night then. Have a nice night.”

 

He turned and left the doorway.

 

“No!” Nurse Daughton called, jumping off the bureau. “No, you come back!”

 

“Hey, wait!” Dr. Blake said. “Dr. Norris!”

 

The man shuffled away down the hallway. They followed him.

 

“What’s going on?” Dr. Blake said. “Who’s Hymes?”

 

“Oh I get it,” Zippy suddenly said. “It’s Dr. Norris and Mr. Hymes.”

 

“What?” Dr. Norris said, turning.

 

“What’s going on?” Dr. Blake said. “Who’s Hymes?”

 

“No. No one,” Dr. Norris said. “He’s no one. He’s … uh … uh … I … he’s … uh … he’s nobody.”

 

He glanced down the corridor to the door at the end.

 

“Hey, wait a minute,” Nurse Daughton said. “You have some explaining to do. Who is this little man who invited us in and why is he trying to kill us with a knife?”

 

“I-I-I-I don’t know why he would try to kill you,” Dr. Norris said. Then he lowered his voice to a whisper. “He’s trying to kill me! Protect me from him!” He raised his voice again. “You can stay as long as you need to. I see the storm─”

 

“I’d rather not when your little friend is trying to kill us in our own room while we sleep!”

 

“Well, that’s a guest room.”

 

“It’s a guest room. Sorry.”

 

“Not your room.”

 

“We’re staying in it. I think you know what I mean.”

 

“Oh, I understand your meaning. Yes. Yes. That’s my room.”

 

He pointed up the corridor to the room Nurse Daughton had found the diary in.

 

Zippy looked carefully at the man’s hands. They looked fine.

 

“I-I don’t …” Dr. Norris said.

 

“But you’re aware this man is here and you think he’s trying to kill you,” Nurse Daughton said. “Why haven’t you gotten rid of him?”

 

“Because,” Dr. Norris said, lowering his voice once again. “He’ll try to kill me if I got rid of him.”

 

“Don’t you own a gun?”

 

“There’s … there’s a rifle. But I don’t have the bullets for it. I think Hymes has them.”

 

“He’s tiny!” Dr. Blake said. “He’s tiny! You could throw him out the door with no problem!”

 

“No no no,” Dr. Norris said. “He’s … he’s … I’ve lived here for some time. I’m Doctor Albert Norris. Yes, I am Dr. Norris. Please, put those guns away. That’s terribly dangerous. It’s terribly dangerous. Guns are very dangerous. I should know. I’m a doctor. I’m a doctor.”

 

“Among other things that are dangerous in this house, yes,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“Okay,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Just avoid him,” Dr. Norris said. “Yes. That’s what I do. I avoid him.”

 

“Oh, we tried,” Nurse Daughton said. “He pushed the door open and something─”

 

“Oh. Well, you should have locked it.”

 

“Some hell …” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“There was some sort of slime thing,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“… slime …” Nurse Daughton said. “Like a soup. Moving around.”

 

“I … uh …” Dr. Norris said.

 

“You don’t know anything?” Nurse Daughton said. “No?”

 

“No,” Dr. Norris said. “Yes!”

 

“Do you have a car?” Nurse Daughton asked, realizing the man was very off and possibly even deranged.

 

“Yes, I have a motorcar out front. It is a Cadillac. It is quite a good automobile.”

 

“May we borrow it so we can get to where we need to go?”

 

“Oh! Well … why yes, of course. It has an electric starter. That’s electric. That way you don’t have to crank it. Like certain motorcars. That I know of. But you were in a car accident. I don’t know if you’d want to get in another automobile. Especially with this … weather.”

 

“We’ll take our chances.”

 

“Of course, if you promise to … but who are you? What are your names? Who are you people?”

 

“My name is Dr. Alison Blake,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Dr. Blake?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Are you from … he’s from Providence, you say?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I remember this. And what is your name?”

 

“You can call me Zippy,” Zippy said.

 

“I would like your name, sir, if you are going to borrow my automobile,” Dr. Norris said.

 

“Angelo Giovanni.”

 

“And you, miss?”

 

“Abigail Daughton,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“Abigail Daughton,” Dr. Norris said. “Well, if you need to get to town … one can’t live in a world where one doesn’t trust people … in peril. That’s not the right word. In distress. That’s the right word. Yes. Distress. Distress is a good word. If you can’t trust people in distress, who can you trust? Correct?”

 

“Right,” Dr. Blake said. “Right. Sir.”

 

“But of course you may borrow my autocar. It’s right outside the front door.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Mind, the drive is probably very muddy. I’ll never get back to sleep after all this noise. I’m going to go to the study.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Borkie! Mooftus!”

 

Dr. Norris wandered past his bedroom door, heading further into the house.

 

“Well, I say anything is better than staying in this terrifying house with these people!” Dr. Blake whispered to the others.

 

“I agree, but now he knows our names,” Nurse Daughton said. “I’m not comfortable with that.”

 

“What could he possibly do with them?”

 

“He doesn’t seem to be in his right mind.”

 

“Okay, I could tell that.”

 

“I don’t want to put my back towards him.”

 

“What do you think, Zippy?”

 

“Here’s the thing,” Zippy said as Nurse Daughton looked at her watch. It was after midnight. “Whoever that midget is, he’s dangerous.”

 

“He’s also hurt,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“He’s proved himself that he’s willing to attack us,” Zippy went on.

 

“I’m going to go ahead and take the knife so nobody uses it against us,” Dr. Blake said, stooping to pick up the large knife.

 

“What are we going to do about our luggage?” Zippy asked.

 

“Aw, it’s still in the car,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“We could try to go get it,” he said.

 

“Uh,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Leave it,” Nurse Daughton said. “Whenever we leave─”

 

“I got big guns in there,” Zippy said.

 

“I see,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“Yeah, that could be useful,” Dr. Blake said. “I just want to get out of this murder house.”

 

There was a crash of thunder.

 

“He said it was around front,” Nurse Daughton said. “We could leave right now and be safe.”

 

“Yeah,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Or we could hit another dog,” Nurse Daughton quipped.

 

More thunder roared.

 

“Is anyone more experienced at driving?” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“Don’t get in the car,” a voice whispered from the darkness.

 

“What?” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“What?” Dr. Blake said.

 

The voice came from the doorway at the end of the hall. Nurse Daughton pulled the pistol from her purse again and pointed at the door.

 

“You little bastard!” Nurse Daughton whispered.

 

“Don’t trust him!” the voice of the midget came through the door. “Al is unstable.”

 

“Are you kidding me?”

 

“I carry a knife to defend myself!”

 

“You came at us with a knife!”

 

He’s the unstable one?” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Why are you trying to kill us if he’s the problem?” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“I have to defend myself,” the voice behind the door whispered. “I have to defend myself.”

 

“So, why were you coming at us?” Zippy said.

 

“I was coming to warn you!” the voice replied.

 

“With a knife!?!” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“To be careful,” the voice said. “He could come out at any time. He-he-he-he’s going to try to kill you! He’s insane!”

 

“Who’s he!?!” Dr. Blake said.

 

“What’s his name?” Zippy said.

 

“His name is Al,” the voice said. “He thinks he’s a doctor! He’s crazy!”

 

“Why did you introduce yourself as him?” Nurse Daughton asked.

 

“I am Dr. Norris,” the voice said. “I’m Dr. Albert Norris. He’s Al. But he thinks he’s me. He’s crazy! He’s crazy I tell you!”

 

“What?” Dr. Blake asked.

 

“Why did you shoot me?” the voice asked. “It hurts so bad!”

 

“Because you had a knife!” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“You came into our room … with a barricaded door … and a knife,” Zippy said.

 

“And some soup,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“Soup?” the voice said. “I don’t know what …”

 

“That slimy thing on the floor,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“The slimy thing,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Don’t … don’t trust him!” the voice said.

 

“Give me my handkerchief back!” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“Don’t trust him,” the voice said. “He’ll kill you all. He’s just waiting for you to come looking for him so he’ll have a chance to ambush you.”

 

“How about I put my gun up and you come out here?” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“You’ll shoot me again!” the midget replied.

 

“I said I’ll put it up,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“We promise─” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice … wait,” the midget said.,

 

“You came in with a knife!” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“Dr. Norris, we promise we won’t shoot you again,” Dr. Blake said. “Both of you, put your guns up for now.”

 

“You came at us with a knife!” Nurse Daughton said again.

 

“No!” the midget’s voice said. “I don’t trust you! Terrible people. My hands! There’s so much blood. So much blood!”

 

“Good!” Nurse Daughton said. “Don’t have a knife next time you come in somebody’s room.”

 

“Don’t trust him!” the voice said again. “Don’t get in the car! He offered you his car?”

 

“Yes?” Dr. Blake said.

 

“It has an electric starter.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Electric. It’s electric. Don’t push the electric starter.”

 

“What? What will it do? Will it shock us?”

 

“These guys don’t have a phone,” Zippy said. “They don’t have electric lights in their house.”

 

“Electricity’s what is used to blow up dynamite,” the voice said. “Don’t get in the car. Don’t start the car! Don’t do it! He’s mad. He’s quite mad! I was just coming to warn you!”

 

“With a knife!” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“Yes!” the voice said. “He’s mad! I can’t walk around unarmed! He’ll kill me! He’s crazy!”

 

Nurse Daughton put her pistol back into her purse. She asked Zippy to put his away as well.

 

“Come out here, let me fix you up, tell me what the hell’s going on,” she said to the door.

 

“You’re just going to shoot me again!” the voice said.

 

“I put my gun up, just now,” she said.

 

“I’m so scared,” the voice said. “I’m so scared all the time. Really?”

 

“Yes,” she said.

 

There was a click as the key was turned in the lock.

 

“I’m warning you …” she said.

 

The door cracked open and she saw the little man peek out, blood still dripping from both of his hands. There was blood over him, actually. She pushed the door open and he cringed. She led the little man to the bedroom, stopping only long enough for him to lock his bedroom door behind them. He watched Zippy very closely. She picked up the chair and urged him to sit in it. He sat on the floor.

 

She tended to his wounded hands, bandaging them both up. The right hand was injured but not terribly so. His left hand was ripped to pieces and she doubted if the man would ever have full use of it again. He looked at the woman gratefully.

 

“Don’t come at us with a knife again,” she chastised him. “That’s why you were in trouble.”

 

“Okay,” Dr. Blake said. “So …”

 

“I have nothing to defend myself!” the midget said.

 

“Don’t come at us with it!” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“If Al comes at me … what’s he …?” the midget said. “He could kill me! He’s so much bigger than me! Look at me! I’m little!”

 

“Okay, so ... explain Al,” Dr. Blake said. “Explain who Dr. Norris is and explain who the heck Hymes is.”

 

“He calls me Hymes,” the midget said. “But I’m Dr. Albert Norris. He thinks he’s me! I’ve-I’ve lived here for years. My family … back in 1919 … I think that he’s the one who did it. He came … he stayed with us. He was a worker. Here. He was a gardener. And he came and he said … and then I went away to school. And then he sent me a letter that said my family had all moved away and so I came back home … but-but I think he killed ‘em. I don’t have any proof, but I think he killed ‘em. So now I just try to appease him so that he won’t kill me.”

 

Nurse Daughton thought the man was very unstable and he didn’t seem to be entirely truthful in his story. She realized everything in the house was built for normal-sized persons. She noted flaws in his story and his demeanor when telling it. It might have been outright fabrication. There might have been some truth to it. Maybe he thought it was the truth. She realized he was possibly as demented or at least as unstable as Al.

 

“Dr. Blake,” Zippy said.

 

“Yes?” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Nurse Daughton,” Zippy said. “You’re experts at being doctors and medical stuff. Can you see if he matches up with his credentials?”

 

“It just seems very odd that you were around our door,” Nurse Daughton said to the midget. “Give my handkerchief back!”

 

The little man sheepishly took the handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to her.

 

“You little jerk!” she said.

 

“I was scared he was in here!” the little man said. “He could have been in here with you. You could’ve all been dead and he could have been in here. I had to look … before I came in. That’s why I came in: to warn you!”

 

He stood up and walked towards the door, looking nervously towards the hall. He peeked out.

 

“I should just hide in my room,” he said. “It’ll be safer there! Just … don’t trust him! He’s mad! He’s quite mad, I swear!”

 

“I could hear you walk up and down these hallways all night,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“Do you have any idea what the slime was?” Dr. Blake said.

 

The little man backed out of the room.

 

“If you say you’re going to be safer in your room, why did you go looking for him?” Nurse Daughton asked.

 

“Because you are here and you could be killed but you have guns, you don’t have to worry,” the little man said with a strange laugh. “You’re perfectly safe!”

 

He pulled the key out of his pocket.

 

“Hold on,” Nurse Daughton said, walking towards the door.

 

“Hold on,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“I’m scared!” the little man said. “I’m so scared!”

 

“Do you have any idea what that slime was?” Dr. Blake said.

 

The little man panted, obviously terrified.

 

“I just … it’s an experiment!” he said. “He experiments!”

 

“He experiments?” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Is that the blood on that bed in that one room?” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“I don’t know!” the little man said, turning and heading off towards the left.

 

Nurse Daughton went after him and saw him unlocking the door at the end of the corridor.

 

“Hold on,” she said.

 

“No!” he said.

 

He slipped through the doorway, closing the door behind him. She heard the click of the key turning in the lock again. She sighed. From his behavior and demeanor, the little man was obviously scared of them. She was unsure of the truth of anything he said.

 

“Miss Daughton, that journal that you found in the other room … do you think you could go back and get it?” Dr. Blake asked.

 

“It’s in the room that … oh, he actually left,” Nurse Daughton said. “You know what? Maybe.”

 

“Go and get it,” Dr. Blake said. “I want to see it.”

 

Nurse Daughton walked down the hall and peeked into the room. She took the candle, leaving the other two in the dark. Dr. Blake followed a few moments later, taking the remaining unlit candle and banging into one of the doorknobs in the dark. Nurse Daughton peeked back out of the room and saw her.

 

“Sorry,” Dr. Blake said. “Can you light this really quick?”

 

“Sure,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

She lit the other candle off her own.

 

“You want to see the book?” Nurse Daughton asked.

 

“Yes,” Dr. Blake said.

 

Nurse Daughton found the journal and looked through the rest of the desk but didn’t find anything of interest. She looked in the bureau as well but found it completely empty. They returned to the bedroom and Dr. Blake read the journal. Zippy looked terrified, having been sitting in the dark, watching the shadows of trees on the curtains.

 

“So, one of these people is Hymes and one of these people is Dr. Norris,” Dr. Blake said. “Dr. Norris was doing something funny. He was suspended for perversion. I’m not sure … perversion of a sexual nature or perversion of another nature?”

 

“I’m thinking of a medical nature,” Nurse Daughton said. “I’m thinking in that nature. Not perversion as in actually being weird to other people.”

 

“How many women are in medical school?”

 

“I’m considering because of these experiments.”

 

Humans and Others. I’m not particularly medically adept but that doesn’t sound like any medical book I’ve heard of.”

 

“No.”

 

“‘Hymes has written me he’s sent the family away for a while and I can work at the estate. I can’t wait to get there. Will leave tomorrow morning.’”

 

“So, here?”

 

“Yes. At least I’m assuming that this is the estate.”

 

“So, where’s that family?”

 

“Both of these people say that they’re the same guy and it seems like at least there’s one story going around,” Zippy said.

 

“I don’t feel … safe with the big guy,” Nurse Daughton said. “And the little guy’s story is not adding up.”

 

“Nothing about this place adds up,” Dr. Blake said. “They’re … you said that they were off their rockers.”

 

“Both of them. Both of them are a little deranged and it’s probably because of this book. I’ve seen weird books.”

 

“What kind of weird books?”

 

“You wouldn’t understand.”

 

“Have you heard of a book with this title?”

 

“No. But … I kind of want to find it.”

 

“What was the book you were trying to find?”

 

“It’s called The Black Book.”

 

The Black Book?”

 

“It seemed like an interesting book about weird things.”

 

“Interesting book about weird things.”

 

“You said that could help me with my … my situation …” Zippy said.

 

“I don’t know help but maybe answer?” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“I feel like this book, Humans and Others, might help tie some of this together,” Dr. Blake said. “If we can find it.”

 

“If it’s written in another language, I don’t know what language that is,” Nurse Daughton said. “We probably won’t understand it even if we do find it, but …”

 

“I speak English,” Zippy said.

 

“Gosh, I feel like we need to figure out what this book is,” Dr. Blake said. “If there’s actually pictures in it, I might be able to figure some of it out, even if I don’t know the language.”

 

“I say if we’re going to look around this house, we need to be really careful,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“I am aware of that.”

 

“Keep that knife handy.”

 

“I will.”

 

“And your gun.”

 

“All my other ammunition’s in the trunk out there,” Zippy said.

 

“You don’t keep it in your purse?” Nurse Daughton quipped.

 

“It could be in the study,” Dr. Blake said. “But Al’s in there.”

 

“Right,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

They discussed whether to explore the house or try the car out front. Nurse Daughton wanted to look at the car. She didn’t think either of the men minded if they left or not. Dr. Blake wasn’t sure what else they could do.

 

They left the room, going up the corridor to the connecting corridor to the foyer and to the front door, which they found locked. They opened the window next to it. Zippy was uncomfortable with leaving the house with all the trees around.

 

“Hey … um … on second thought,” he said. “How about I make sure nobody comes out to kill you through the front door? Because, I don’t …”

 

“Is there a reason?” Dr. Blake asked.

 

“I’d kind of like to stay inside where there are walls of dead trees: wood that people have killed already and not live ones that are gonna … I don’t know what’s in there,” he muttered.

 

Nurse Daughton noticed the man had broken out in a cold sweat. He seemed to be very nervous about leaving the house.

 

“You know what, Zippy?” Dr. Blake said. “Sure.”

 

“Thank you,” he replied.

 

“I understand,” Nurse Daughton said.

 

“If you’ll feel better in here, then you can stay,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“If you go into danger … it’s going to be tough for me to get out there, I won’t lie,” Zippy said. “So …”

 

“Don’t worry, Zippy,” Nurse Daughton said. “Stay here and keep watch. I like that idea. In case the window also closes on us. Don’t worry about it.”

 

Nurse Daughton gave Zippy her candle. Dr. Blake opened up the drawer on the little table and found a half dozen more candles there and a couple more candlesticks.

 

“Hey, when you’re out there, as a favor for me, as a person?” Zippy said.

 

“Yes?” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Make sure no trees start reaching in …” he said. “If anything comes out of this window, I’m not going to be looking at it, so please …”

 

“Okay … we’ll keep an eye on the trees for you … Zippy,” Dr. Blake said.

 

“Thank you,” Zippy said. “Thank you.”







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