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The Lurker in Tunnel 13 Part 2 - Unanswered Questions

Posted by Max_Writer , in Call of Cthulhu, Campaign Log 04 December 2017 · 146 views

CoC 7e Jazz Age

* * *

 

Pavil put his gun cleaning kit away and slung the rifle on his shoulder. He donned his backpack before going downstairs. He found Wallin in the dining room. O’Brien came in with a plate of food and stared at the rifle in terror. He quickly left the dining room.

 

They waited for a couple of hours before Cloverfield came down, wandering into the dining room.

 

“Good morning,” Wallin said.

 

“Did you sleep well, New Yorker?” Pavil asked.

 

“Yeah,” Cloverfield said. “I’ve slept better. I prefer my bed at home.”

 

“That bed, Deryl told me, was amazing,” Wallin said.

 

“Uh-huh,” Cloverfield said. “Spent a pretty penny on it.”

 

Cloverfield eyed Pavil’s rifle suspiciously. Nurse Petrov came down the stairs after that.

 

“Morning, Nurse,” Wallin said. “How’d you sleep?”

 

“Hmm,” Nurse Petrov said. “Okay, I suppose. Not sure if slept well. Can’t remember.”

 

O’Brien brought more food out for the other two. It was filling but very bland. The water had a slightly metallic taste and was evidently from a well.

 

Wallin left as the other two ate and returned with a chainsaw.

 

“This is really good food, O’Brien,” Pavil said.

 

“Thank you,” O’Brien said.

 

He scampered away.

 

“He seems more nervous than usual,” Pavil said.

 

“Yeah, more nervous than he was last night,” Wallin said.

 

“I wonder why,” Cloverfield said sarcastically.

 

“What do you mean by that?” Pavil said.

 

“You have a gun and he has a chainsaw,” Cloverfield said.

 

“I’m a lumberjack,” Wallin said.

 

“Oh,” Pavil said.

 

“This is my job,” Wallin said.

 

“Yeah,” Pavil said.

 

“True,” Cloverfield said. “But he doesn’t know that.”

 

“Not very inconspicuous too,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Next time he comes by, I’ll let him know why,” Wallin said.

 

“Don’t think he wants,” Nurse Petrov said dryly.

 

“I reassembled it,” Pavil said. “I don’t feel like taking it back apart. Or putting it back together again.”

 

“True, but the chainsaw is … a bit … much,” Cloverfield said.

 

“What if we’ve got to cut something out of our way?” Wallin said.

 

“I think it adds a nice aesthetic touch to our table,” Pavil said.

 

“Like murder pictures,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

When Mr. O’Brien came in to get the plates, Wallin told him he was a lumberjack. The hotelier just looked nervous and got out of the room as quickly as he could.

 

It was around 10 a.m. when Ezekiel entered the hotel.

 

“I thought you folks were coming over for breakfast,” he said, sitting down at the table.

 

“Oh well, O’Brien made some breakfast for us,” Wallin said.

 

“Oh,” Ezekiel said. “That’s good.”

 

“Me and Petrov slept in,” Cloverfield said.

 

“I didn’t feel like denying his hospitality,” Pavil said.

 

“I see,” Ezekiel said. “I see. Well, yeah, that’s fair.”

 

They made small talk for a little while. When they asked for Fort Someplace, Ezekiel said he might be able to look it up but noted he hadn’t been out of town for a while. Cloverfield asked for a map and Ezekiel said they could probably scare up an atlas from somewhere.

 

“We’re going to send some people out to see who’s body that was,” Ezekiel said. “Nobody’s at Mr. Bice’s house so maybe he was him.”

 

“Unfortunate,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Yeah, it is. It is. He’s …”

 

“Sorry for loss.”

 

“Yeah, it’s a shame. It’s a damn shame. He was a pretty old man. He was all tore up with arthritis, unfortunately. He wasn’t able to really work. But … we’ll get him settled. If that’s him. It probably is. His jacket was there. His coat and everything. I don’t know why he was going out in the snow wearing nothing … but …”

 

“Not sure.”

 

“He was old. Maybe …”

 

Ezekiel waved his hand near his head, pantomiming craziness.

 

“Some things just don’t deserve explanations,” Pavil muttered.

 

“But you’re welcome to stay as long as you need to until the weather clears a little bit,” Ezekiel said.

 

“Do have the means of getting my car removed from the snow bank?” Cloverfield said.

 

“I’ll-I’ll tell the boys to see what they can do. I’ll have ‘em take some shovels. It’s in a snow bank?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Yeah. Yeah. I’ll have ‘em take some shovels out there.”

 

“I’ll more than happily pay.”

 

“Don’t worry about that. Don’t worry about that. We’re glad to help. Glad to help.”

 

“Do you need any work around town?” Wallin asked.

 

“Uh … no,” Ezekiel said. “We’re pretty settled. Everybody’s kind of dug in for the winter. Most of the work around here stops most of the time during the winter, but you’re welcome to stay as long as you want.”

 

“What’s the big kind of work around these parts?” Pavil asked.

 

“Uh … well … we’re just making do right now,” Ezekiel said. “Mines played out some time ago so we’re just … uh … we … we’re just … trying our best to, you know, get by. Day by day.”

 

“Fair enough,” Wallin said. “Fair enough.”

 

“I didn’t even introduce you to my wife or son. It was a surprise seeing people … we don’t have electricity up here so people pretty much go to bed when it gets dark. Save on the candles and everything. But yeah, welcome to town. Welcome to Perdition. Sorry it was such a strange … terrible thing that happened when you got here.”

 

“It’s all right.”

 

“Well, we’re glad to have you. Glad to have you.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“Since you missed breakfast, if you’d like to come by the house for supper tonight …”

 

Ezekiel pointed towards the front door.

 

“Like I said, it’s right across the street,” he said. “We’d be glad to have you.”

 

“Thank you,” Wallin said.

 

“I’ll make a note of it,” Cloverfield said.

 

“It’ll be a simple meal but we’ll probably have some of the people from town here,” Ezekiel said.

 

“Very nice,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Get Dr. Reddick down,” Ezekiel went on. “Maybe have O’Brien come. Maybe Mr. McKensey, although he’s a little shy, so …”

 

“Yes,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

Ezekiel nodded, excused himself, and left.

 

“Well,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“He seemed far less nervous,” Pavil said.

 

“He is very kind,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“He seems pretty insistent on us coming to eat with him,” Cloverfield said.

 

“Is he mayor?” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“I’m going to assume he may fill that function,” Pavil said.

 

“Or effectively the eldest person in the town?” Cloverfield said.

 

“Smartest maybe,” Pavil said.

 

“Town has to get by,” Nurse Petrov said. “Maybe he deal with outsiders.”

 

“Well, he did seem, as you put it, very insistent on us going for a meal with him,” Pavil said. “So I suggest we do that.”

 

“What should we do in the meantime?” Cloverfield said.

 

“We do have quite a few hours before supper,” Wallin said.

 

“Not sure,” Nurse Petrov said. “Not much to do.”

 

“We could go look at the mine,” Wallin suggested. “Old man was talking about it last night.”

 

“Why would we do that?” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Why would we go to the mine?” Cloverfield said.

 

“Yeah,” Pavil said.

 

“What’s there?” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“I mean … I don’t know,” Wallin said. “He was talking about how some man had some books or something.”

 

“Shouldn’t we ask Ezekiel first?” Cloverfield said.

 

“You had a book …” Pavil said.

 

He took out his little notebook.

 

“Isn’t that your dream?” he said.

 

“Yeah!” Wallin said.

 

“Books in a mineshaft?”

 

“Yeah, it was.”

 

“What dream?” Cloverfield said.

 

“What?” Nurse Petrov said.

 

Wallin described his dream to them: of going through a mineshaft with books, chanting something, and something appearing on his arm that he was not able to see before waking. Pavil helped him remember the chanting and that the strange bulge had appeared on his right arm. Nurse Petrov didn’t know what to make of it.

 

“Strange,” she said. “So, you believe because of this dream we should go check out this mine where your arm will bulge?”

 

“Uh … we don’t know that will happen,” Wallin said. “I don’t know that thing I was speaking.”

 

“But old man wanted to run,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Dreams have always been weird, Miss Petrov,” Pavil said.

 

Cloverfield looked at Wallin carefully, remembering the house.

 

“Dreams are strange, Miss Petrov,” Pavil went on. “There’s many cases of dreams in the good Holy Book of dreams leading people to both their doom and their salvation.”

 

“Hm,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“What this is, I have no idea.”

 

“Holy Book have arm bulge?”

 

“Potentially?” Wallin said.

 

“Holy Book had talking burning bushes, so …” Pavil said.

 

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Wallin said.

 

“Holy Book very strange,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

Wallin realized the dream might have simply been in relation to the story the dying man had told them by the road outside of town. It was a terrible occurrence. He’d never seen someone die before. He mentioned that to the others. Nurse Petrov still found it strange.

 

They got up and parted ways.

 

* * *

 

Cloverfield and Pavil donned their coats and headed up the street to the bank. The building was made of stone and seemed solid but proved to be boarded up. The word “BANK” was carved onto the façade. Looking in through the thick, glass-paned doors on the front revealed teller stations and a marble floor. A large safe stood near the back. It didn’t look like it had been used in a long time.

 

“Is there anything else in town?” Cloverfield asked.

 

“We could check out the local billiard hall,” Pavil said. “It’s always nice to see what the watering hole offers.”

 

They headed back up the street.

 

* * *

 

Wallin left the hotel to look for a telegraph office. He wandered the opposite direction the other men had gone, crossing the intersection outside of the hotel to a general store that stood on the other corner. He found the building still in use with a couple of old men playing checkers by a wood stove. A third man wore an apron and watched the game. There were very few goods on the shelves and racks. The place was nearly empty and all three men seemed surprised to see him.

 

“Can I help you?” the man in the apron asked.

 

“Oh, I’m one of the visitors that came in last night,” Wallin said.

 

The men looked at each other and nodded.

 

“I was just trying to find something to pass the time before …” Wallin said. “Ezekiel asked us to come to supper.”

 

“Oh, Ezekiel,” one of the old men said. “Oh.”

 

“Do you need any wood for that stove back there?” Wallin asked.

 

“No,” the man in the apron said. “We’re fine.”

 

“All right,” Wallin said.

 

The men eyed the chainsaw warily.

 

* * *

 

Both Pavil and Cloverfield couldn’t help but notice they were constantly under observation. As they walked up the street, they saw the villagers kept a constant eye on them. They passed villagers who would wave but then try to surreptitiously watch them after they had passed. There was always someone around where they were. After leaving the bank, they noticed someone walking down the street towards the south side of town. Another person peeked out of a window, keeping them in view as they passed a house. Yet another came out of their house as they passed and started to sweep snow from the porch, smiling at them and then watching them.

 

They found the billiard hall tucked between the drug store and the restaurant, the latter obviously closed up. They went inside and found two billiard tables and several cues in racks on the walls. Several of the billiard cues seemed to be homemade and the professionally made cues, of which there were few, looked old and worn. A wood stove warmed the place and a man stood behind a short bar at the far end. A large keg was on the floor beside him. Two younger men played billiards.

 

“You want something to drink, sir?” the man behind the bar asked.

 

“I would love that,” Pavil said.

 

“All right,” the man said.

 

He got out a jug and poured clear liquid into an old glass. It was about a swallow and he handed it to the man. Pavil slammed it down. It burned as it went down and he nearly coughed as it was very strong corn liquor, obviously homemade. The man looked at him, looked at the jug, and raised his eyebrows as if asking “Another?”

 

“Yes!” Pavil said.

 

The man gave him another swallow of the harsh liquor.

 

“You, sir?” the man said to Cloverfield.

 

“Uh … no,” Cloverfield said. “No thanks.”

 

Pavil slammed the second shot of moonshine. It was horrible but also a wonderful distraction. The man offered him another one but he waved him off.

 

Pavil asked the man behind the bar to fill his flask with the moonshine and the man shrugged and searched for some time for a funnel small enough to do so but ended up filling up the flask.

 

* * *

 

Nurse Pavil, bored, finally left the hotel and went outside. She started to build a snowman and saw Wallin come out of the general store. They both realized people were not bothering to shovel snow from the street or their front walks. The snowman Nurse Pavil was making was very large.

 

“Remind you of back home?” Wallin said as he approached.

 

“Much more snow home,” she said.

 

“Fair enough,” Wallin said.

 

“Make igloos at home,” she said.

 

Wallin remembered a sign they had passed on the way into town that said “Perdition Post.”

 

“In Soviet Russia, you jump in pile of snow and be fine,” Nurse Petrov said. “From tall tower.”

 

She laughed.

 

“Do you know where the other two went?” Wallin asked again.

 

“Not been paying attention,” she said. “Been rolling snow.”

 

“Fair enough,” he said.

 

He headed down the street towards the Perdition Post. He realized when he got there it wasn’t a post office but a boarded up newspaper office. He noticed someone loitering across the street, shoveling snow ineffectively but obviously keeping an eye on him. When Wallin looked his way, he quickly looked away. Then he glanced back at him. He headed back to the hotel, waving to the villager who ignored him like he didn’t notice.

 

He found Nurse Pavil next to an unfinished snowman that collapsed under its own weight.

 

“Snow is not very packed,” she said.

 

* * *

 

Cloverfield left the billiard hall and went next door to the drugstore, which proved to be closed and obviously long-abandoned. He saw the others up the street and went to join them.

 

“Nice … snow man,” Cloverfield said.

 

“It collapsed,” Nurse Petrov said. “Not very good snow. Better in Russia.”

 

“Do you know where Marco is?” Wallin said.

 

“Getting alcohol,” Cloverfield said.

 

“Ah!” Wallin said. “I’m assuming from the place you just were?”

 

“It’s some sort of alcohol but … yeah,” Cloverfield said.

 

Wallin headed down to the billiard hall.

 

* * *

 

Pavil had a filled flask of moonshine. He pulled out his wallet but the man just waved him off. Pavil took the man’s hand and shook it graciously. He turned to find the two men who had been playing billiards had stopped and were just staring at him. He walked over to them.

 

“What you looking at?” he said.

 

The front door opened and Wallin walked in. The two men looked towards him.

 

“Hey,” Pavil said.

 

“Hey, Marco,” Wallin said.

 

“You’ve got to try this!”Pavil said.

 

He waved his flask and handed it to him. Wallin took a swig and choked on the rough corn liquor. It burned going down.

 

“That reminds me of a night with my brother,” Wallin said.

 

* * *

 

Cloverfield approached one of the villagers who was walking down the street.

 

“Hello there,” he said.

 

“Howdy,” the man said.

 

He continued down the street. Cloverfield moved to walk at the same pace.

 

“So, uh, how are you doing?” he said.

 

“I’m fine,” the man said carefully.

 

“That’s good. Where are you going?”

 

“I’m just going down to Dr. Reddick’s.”

 

“You mind if I … uh … join ya.”

 

“Uh … it’s right over here.”

 

The men went into the house with the sign over the door that read “Doctor Reddick.” The front room was obviously a place for patients to wait. The older gentleman there seemed surprised to see him.

 

“What you need, Barrett?” he said to the villager.

 

“I’m - I’m just coming to have you look at my cut, Doc,” Barrett said. “Just make sure it’s okay.”

 

Dr. Reddick looked at Cloverfield.

 

“Can I help you, sir?” Dr. Reddick asked.

 

“Help him first,” Cloverfield said. “I have some questions for you.”

 

“All right,” Dr. Reddick said. “Come on, Barrett.”

 

Barrett and Dr. Reddick went into what looked like an examining room, Dr. Reddick looking out at Cloverfield as he closed the door. Cloverfield heard movement and the mumble of conversation from the other room. A few minutes later, Barrett came out with a fresh bandage. He left and Dr. Reddick approached Cloverfield.

 

“You one of them strangers in town?” Dr. Reddick said.

 

“Yeah,” Cloverfield said.

 

“Hmm. Are you … you hurt?”

 

“No. I’m quite fine. I just had questions.”

 

“About what?”

 

“Do you know … anything about the town we’re in?”

 

“I would hope so. I’ve lived here for 30 years.”

 

“But … do you know about a town called Fort Mac … Something?”

 

“What? No.”

 

“Seems to be the common answer here.”

 

“Fort MacSomething?”

 

“Well, I don’t know what the …”

 

“How would anybody know if you don’t know?”

 

“Do you know this person?”

 

Cloverfield took out Dr. Sappington’s card. Dr. Reddick didn’t know any names.

 

“Well, do you know anything about the mine?” Cloverfield asked.

 

“Well, it ran out,” Dr. Reddick said. “About 20 years ago.”

 

“I heard someone went in there, though.”

 

“You heard someone … where’d you hear that?”

 

“Well … I just heard it from one of the townsmen. Ezekiel was talking about it.”

 

“Well, you should ask Ezekiel about it then.”

 

“But … true.”

 

Cloverfield awkwardly walked out.

 

“Good day,” he said over his shoulder. “See you at supper.”

 

He left the office, red-faced and embarrassed. He saw Nurse Petrov was making three tiny snowmen out of the remains of her larger one.

 

* * *

 

Wallin got a glass of moonshine at the billiard hall. It was very rough and very strong. He started to feel it after only the couple of drinks. Both he and Pavil could feel it though they were fine for the moment.

 

“We should go back to Nurse Petrov,” Wallin said.

 

They left the billiard hall and found Cloverfield with the woman.

 

“Do we want to go look at the mine?” Wallin said.

 

“You are one about that mine,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“No one wants to talk to me about it,” Cloverfield said.

 

“Really?” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“See that’s why I think─” Wallin said.

 

“Well, the doctor refused to speak about it,” Cloverfield said. “He told me I need to speak to Ezekiel, when I tried to divert around plowing down the man.”

 

“That’s why I think we should go check it out ourselves,” Wallin said. “Just take a quick look around the general area.”

 

“As much as I hate to admit it, that is sound logic,” Pavil said.

 

“Do you know the location?” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Not a clue,” Wallin said.

 

“Well, we don’t have any light sources,” Cloverfield said.

 

“So, we go there ourselves without asking?” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Yep,” Pavil said. “You’re right about that. I’m not going to go anywhere near it without a flashlight.”

 

Cloverfield went to the general store in search of lanterns but the place only had the ones they used to light the place. When he offered to buy one, the man refused him though he noted he had a lot of money and even flashed it around. The man apologized but wouldn’t sell him anything. Cloverfield left and walked down the street.

 

“There was also a newsstand that was all boarded up,” Wallin said to the other two.

 

“I say we should actually meet with Ezekiel before we go near the mine,” Pavil said. “We should talk to him first.”

 

“I mean …” Wallin said.

 

“He makes me wary,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Everybody makes me wary, so I’ll take your word for that,” Pavil said.

 

Wallin looked up and guessed it was about noon.

 

“About what time is it?” he asked Nurse Petrov.

 

She looked at her watch.

 

“About 11:30,” she said.

 

“We could maybe head over to Ezekiel’s for lunch,” Wallin said.

 

“Did he offer lunch?”

 

“No, he offered supper.”

 

“I thought he offered dinner.”

 

“But …”

 

“Hm. Maybe not impose. I would not impose.”

 

* * *

 

Cloverfield arrived at the bank and walked around to the back, where he found a back door. It was nailed shut as well. When he tried the handle, he found it locked. The windows all had bars on them as well as boards. He looked around but the buildings seemed to be inhabited nearby. He went further down the street, past McKensey’s house, but across the street, one house had a collapsed roof but otherwise seemed intact.

 

He moved behind the house and, though the door and windows were boarded up, the back door was not locked and the boards nailed up were not attached to the door, only the frame. He crawled through the boards. It was cold and dark though light came in through the windows. The curtains were pulled back.

 

He looked for lanterns and soon found the house had been ransacked and most of the items removed. The drawers and the cupboards were all open. Rooms were empty of furniture and the lanterns he looked for. Of note in one of the upstairs rooms was a noose hanging from a rafter. Though there were hooks where lanterns or even hanging lamps might have been on the walls, they were all gone.

 

* * *

 

The others discussed using the candles they were given at the hotel though Pavil was against it. Wallin didn’t particularly want to go into the mineshaft but wanted to see the entrance. Pavil was willing to do that, noting they didn’t even need a light to just find the place.

 

They headed out of the town to the north, passing a post office and a Dr. McMillen’s house, when they spotted what looked like mine works on the mountainside in that direction. They trudged out of town through the deep snow and saw the hillside was less than an eighth of a mile from town. There were several mine entrances with narrow gauge rail tracks. Everything was very rusty. Paint peeled from the numerous structures built there.

 

“What do you think?” Pavil said. “About what I was expecting. He said it dried up about 20 years ago.”

 

“Not much to go on,” Wallin said.

 

“What were you looking for exactly?” Pavil said.

 

They followed the mountainside past the unnamed and unnumbered mine entrances until they reached the 13th. Wallin recognized the last one: Number 13. It was eerily and terrifyingly familiar and Wallin realized it was from his dream the night before.

 

“Oh,” he said. “I’m starting to think my dream wasn’t just a dream.”

 

“Are you sure?” Nurse Petrov asked.

 

“Yeah, this looks too familiar and I’ve never been here before, so …”

 

“Hm. Interesting. Well, lead us the way since you know this place.”

 

“I ain’t going in!”

 

“Well, continue …”

 

“I say we ask Ezekiel more about this at dinner.”

 

* * *

 

Cloverfield peeked into the uppermost floor of the house, which had collapsed, the stairway was choked with debris. As he came down the steps, he heard a door slam below. He put his hand in his pocket with his pistol.

 

“Who’s there?” he called.

 

There was no answer. He drew his pistol and crept towards the back door again. It was closed. He had not closed it. He pulled it open and saw no one outside. He kicked one of the boards several times before it came free. He crawled out of the building, looking around nervously. No one was around.

 

He put his pistol away and hightailed it back to the hotel. It seemed like everyone he passed was watching him. He stumbled and fell at one point but quickly got back up and continued towards the hotel.

 

* * *

 

The other three walked back to town. Nurse Petrov was not sure what the point had been to visit the mine and Wallin pointed out he wanted to make sure he wasn’t going crazy. Nurse Petrov spotted Cloverfield running up the street towards them, stumbling in the snow and leaning heavily on his cane. She broke into a jog towards the man.

 

When she reached him, she grabbed him by the shoulders.

 

“What happened?” she said.

 

Cloverfield was out of breath.

 

“I … I … I was … checking out one of the … abandoned houses … for a lantern,” he gasped. “For the mine. And … uh … uh …. um … and there was a … I saw a noose in there … not important though. I was looking for a lantern.”

 

“Was there a body?” Nurse Petrov asked.

 

“Huh?”

 

“Was there body?”

 

“No. It looked like it’d been there for a while.”

 

“Just a noose? No one there?”

 

“Hanging from the rafters.”

 

“I wonder if it was old man.”

 

“Maybe. The house was stripped clean of anything of worth. There’s no lanterns. But someone slammed the door, the way I came in. And then everyone was watching me as I ran up the street.”

 

“I … I imagine.”

 

“But … but someone slammed the door behind me and I … I don’t know who it was. I hurt my leg on the way over here. I tripped.”

 

“That is why you limp. Give me arm. Take you back to inn.”

 

“I can walk on it.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“I … ran up here using the cane.”

 

“Does it hurt, though?”

 

“It hurts.”

 

“After adrenaline. You know.”

 

“I’ll … be fine.”

 

“Okay. I want to see house if you can.”

 

“What house?”

 

“That … noose house.”

 

Cloverfield looked around. The few townsfolk were around but he didn’t see anyone specifically looking at them. Pavil noticed them keeping an eye on them, though. He didn’t see any familiar faces. The people he’d noticed watching them before were not the same ones watching now.

 

“Better idea,” Nurse Petrov said. “We go ask Ezekiel. Ezekiel? Ezekiel. What house? Whose house that is.”

 

Cloverfield led the way to the house across from the hotel.

 

“So, we are going to lunch,” Wallin quipped.

 

No one laughed.

 

Cloverfield knocked on the door when they arrived and a young boy answered. They recognized him as the boy Ezekiel had brought to the house the night before.

 

“Hello!” the boy said.

 

“Is Ezekiel in?” Cloverfield asked.

 

“No, he’s doing chores.”

 

“Where is he then?”

 

“I … uh … the north field? Maybe?”

 

“The north field?”

 

“The south field? Maybe the east?”

 

“Is he a farmer?”

 

“Could be the west field?”

 

“Is your mother home?” Wallin asked.

 

“Are y’all coming over for supper already?” the boy said. “It ain’t suppertime.”

 

“No, we’re just looking for Ezekiel to ask him some questions.”

 

“Mom’s doing chores too. She’s not here. I’m cleaning.”

 

“Okay. Thank you.”

 

“Be good boy now,” Nurse Petrov said to the boy, who was closing the door very slowly.

 

“You’re a big lady,” the boy said.

 

“Yes,” she said.

 

The boy closed the door.

 

“Do you want me to show you the house, then?” Cloverfield asked.

 

“Perhaps we wait,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Yeah, we should just wait,” Pavil said.

 

“I guess we’ll just … wait then,” Cloverfield said.

 

“Let’s go back to the hotel for lunch,” Wallin said.

 

They returned to the hotel where O’Brien was surprised and terrified to see them, seemingly. He ran to the kitchen, calling back he would get them some lunch. He soon returned with cold roast beef sandwiches. There were no sides but just the sandwiches and they were not spiced or salted. He also brought a pitcher of water and glasses for them all.

 

While they ate, Nurse Petrov and Cloverfield noticed the door to the kitchen was slightly ajar. Nurse Petrov assumed they were being watched. Cloverfield got up and walked over, giving the door a little push. He felt pressure against it that went away as soon as he started to push it. It bumped into something.

 

He pushed it open all the way and peeked into the kitchen. O’Brien was scuttering away from the door almost as if he had been spying on them. Cloverfield sighed and let go of the door. He kept an eye on the door after that and soon saw it open a crack once again. Nurse Petrov noticed Cloverfield looking and the door open slightly again. Cloverfield realized she saw it as well.

 

They finished lunch. It was bland but filling.

 

Wallin and Pavil went back to the billiard hall to play billiards. Nurse Petrov looked at Cloverfield’s leg but it was fine. After that, Cloverfield joined them at the billiard hall.

 

Nurse Petrov walked down the street to the Perdition Post. It was boarded up and she peeked into the windows that showed an office in the front with a printing press, typewriter, and desk. A door led to the back room of the place. She couldn’t see if there were any newspapers in the place, however. She didn’t want to break into the building.

 

Next door was a residence. She passed a closed restaurant that was boarded up. The house next to it was boarded up as well. The drugstore was also closed up and boarded up as well. She was surprised the meat shop was open. She entered the meat shop and saw there was nobody there.

 

“Hello?” she called. “Hello?”

 

A noise like the hacking of meat came from the back of the place.

 

“Hello?” she called more loudly.

 

The noise stopped in the back and O’Brien came out. He wore a bloody apron and had a large, bloody knife in his hand.

 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Is something wrong?”

 

“No, I was just … wondering if you sold salt here,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Ah … no. We ain’t had salt in Perdition in some time. Can’t mine it, you know. I was just … slaughtering some meat …”

 

A woman entered the meat shop.

 

“What do you hunt?” Nurse Petrov asked O’Brien.

 

“Well, we slaughtered a cow,” he said. “Sometimes the men in town will bring me … whatever they need cut up for them. Squirrel or deer or possum or raccoon … uh …”

 

“Just curious.

 

“… whatever they can bring. Okay.”

 

“Sorry for disturbing you.”

 

The woman just stared at Nurse Petrov.

 

“It’s okay,” O’Brien said.

 

“I’ll be on my way,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

She left the place. As she closed the door, she realized the woman merely stared at her as she went.

 

She headed towards the fields to the north in search of Ezekiel without luck. The people she found seemed nervous around her. She merely nodded at them and then continued her search for Ezekiel. She ended up finding the man eventually. He seemed surprised to see her. He was in a barn where some cattle and sheep were kept, busily working with the animals.

 

“Can I help you?” he asked.

 

“I wish I had my friends with me but … we went to the mine and would like more information about that mine,” she said. “I know it was dried up.”

 

“Yeah, I’m kind of busy,” he said. “I can talk to you about that tonight.”

 

“Very well,” she said.

 

She left, angry at the lack of answers she was getting. She went to the billiard hall and joined the others.

 

* * *