In Media Res
No one knows what causes the artistic types of L.A. to dream so vividly in the last days of August. They just do.
A painter might consider it a mark of honor to wake one morning with the inspiration to paint a great work. A singer would sit bolt upright, drenched in sweat, and immediately set to work on a brilliant, if somewhat dark, Ballard. Like clockwork, every year writers and actors claim fleeting memories of dreams of voids and impossibly large beings.
Others might think this superstition but it’s undeniable that many of the greatest, and darkest artistic works were first conceived in the later days of August.
No one knows why it happens, but now it was happening to the investigators.
For the last few nights they had been dreaming. The first was of Maria del Ponchard. Maria stood straight upon a stone table. Her face showed no emotion. Her missing eyes showed nothing but endless space. She holds a torch of black flame, spluttering in one outstretched arm. In the crook of her other arm she holds a stone tablet.
Next was of chains and cells. Before them, bored looking old men held up Rorschach prints, one after the other. They knew whatever they said this will continue for eternity.
A bus trip. From behind the investigators they heard sudden screams as the back of the vehicle was torn away by a huge, black, winged creature. The bus rolled. They blacked out.
Darkest Space. They sensed the area they were in was limitless but they were not alone. There was something before them. Lightning from some distant cosmic storm silhouettes the immense mass of tentacles for a fraction of a second and they feared they may go insane.
In their heads, they heard a voice ‘I am The Opener of The Way, join me on the other side.’
They awoke with one, strange word imprinted on their minds.
Morgan, Pfeiff, Gantry and Douglas are dangerous men. All have killed before, solely for pleasure. Given the opportunity they will kill again. They are incarcerated in The Liberty Centre for the Criminally Insane in Missouri.
Their actions have caught the interest of an otherworldly being. One that refers to itself as ‘The Opener of The Way’ though it is known by many names. It promises them power if they join it ‘on the other side’ and teaches them the ritual to do so.
The time has come. Heavy rains have caused flooding in and around Liberty and the Center has been evacuated. The four inmates are bundled into a prison transport bus to be moved to a safer location.
The Opener of The Way keeps its word. It sends a winged creature (a Hunting Horror) to attack the bus, which crashes. Upon waking Gantry finds he is holding a large ceremonial knife. He uses it to threaten the surviving guard, Denis Gellon, into releasing him and his accomplices. Taking the guard’s gun, they manage to flag down an unfortunate lady named Linda Maye Olcott. With the doomed Guard and Civilian held captive they order Linda to drive to a safe place, The Olcott farm.
Upon arrival Morgan orders Linda to drive the car into a ditch before shooting the poor woman. They hide the body in the trunk of the car.
They force Gellon into the empty house where Pfeiff slits his throat and removes his face and tongue while Douglas paints the required image on the wall in blood. They begin the ritual……
But something goes wrong.
A burst of energy erupts from the image and the four find themselves without any memory of anything up to that point.
The four men stood around the body of the dead man. In Douglas’s hand was the guards gun, by Gantry’s foot was the ceremonial dagger. Pfieff held the face of the guard over his own, the dead man’s tongue replacing his missing one.
The yelling began.
All the men were shocked at their surroundings. Morgan dove for the door and found themselves in the hall. Opposite was the kitchen. Knives. He made his way in.
Back in the lounge Pfeiff had grabbed a poker and was backing away from the other two. Gantry departed as well and made his way upstairs.
Pfeiff crept into the kitchen and attempted to brain Morgan but he dived aside and fought back. Pfeiff grabbed a knife and cut at Morgan, cutting up his hands. Douglas came in and drew his gun on them. With his opponent distracted Morgan was able to wrestle Pfeiff to the ground. Douglas ran down to the basement to look for rope to restrain the crazed man.
The basement held a locked gun safe, one of the rifles seemed to be missing. He made an attempt at picking the lock but was unable to. Finding some rope near by he raced back up to restrain Pfeiff.
Gantry had made his way upstairs and was searching through the bathrooms he found there. In the main bedroom he found some clothing that fit so he hastily changed. He found a guest room that seemed to have belonged to a young man. From beneath a bed a box poked out. Gantry threw it open and found what appeared to be a stack of adult magazines with a distinct theme.
As Gantry glanced at the BDSM Magazine a flash of memory struck him. He recalled his youth, his sister, dressed in BDSM garb tied him to a chair. She asked him meaningless questions. With each answer she struck him. His memory returned.
Downstairs Pfeiff had charged into what appeared to be a teenaged girls bedroom. In a mad rage he turned on a big stuffed dog, hacking its head off. Then he was back in his twenties….
He stood at the front door of a house. He knocked and a girl came to the door with a friendly looking Saint Bernard. In his pocket he felt the hammer he was going to use to kill her. His memories returned.
From the lounge he heard the sound of barking.
Douglas had found a bathroom and was setting to work removing his beard. Then they heard the car.
From the window an RV could be seen making its way up the drive. Douglas moved into an ambush position. The back door opened, and Douglas moved fast, bringing the rifle up to the hunters face. ‘You killed my wife ’cried the man. ‘You killed her and stuffed her in the trunk like an animal!’ He swung up his rifle in rage and Douglas shot him dead.
Pfeiff had moved back into the loungeroom at this point. In the dark outside he spied a man, a hunter by the look of him creeping up to the house. Pfieff took action. He pulled the skin over his face and smashed a chair through the window where the hunter was approaching and followed it out. The hunter understandably turned and ran. Gantry had followed Pfeiff back into the room and had turned his attention on the ink block. It pulsed at him. He turned his shotgun on it and opened fire..and disappeared.
Pfeiff has seen this. Gantry had joined the master. He dover back through the window and charged at the blot. He too vanished.
At the front porch Morgan had been in the shadows watching another pair by the RV. When they heard the shots he slipped into the shadows and let them race past. He then ran for the RV and jumped behind the wheel. With a squeal of tires he peeled off down the drive. Douglas meanwhile had taken off into the woods.
Rafe, George, Esther and Tannequa awoke. Deep down they knew what they had experienced was real.
Douglas was soon apprehended after an anonymous phone call (supplied by Rafe) tipped off his location. He would later commit suicide in prison. Morgan is still at large.
This was fun. In many ways it was a fantastic scenario for beginning keepers as much of the story is taken care of by the players. I could just sit back and watch the chaos unfold.
That said, i kind of wished my group had been more suspicious and hostile towards one another. In hindsight i could have handed out notes here and there to sew the seeds of paranoia.