The Edge of Darkness pt. 2-0: Enter Michael O'Shea
by, 1st March 2012 at 08:47 PM (533 Views)
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
(After playing the Call of Cthulhu scenario “The Edge of Darkness” Monday in High Point with Steve Turner, Jeff Smith, Ken Woody, and Erik Huffine from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
Around 4 p.m. on Friday, September 21, 1928, Alan O’Shea, Grover Jones, and Thomas Vanderholdt sat in Jones’ Ford AA tow truck in the pouring rain near a rotted house in the middle of nowhere near Ross’s Corners, Massachusetts, and discussed what to do. Vanderholdt pointed out that the ritual had to be performed at midnight so they could either do it that night or read De Vermiis Mysteriis and return the following night.
“Or, do the most sensible thing: run away,” he concluded.
“We just met a hobo,” O’Shea said.
“Well, now that you’ve managed to clobber the hobo with a stick ...” Vanderholdt said.
“I didn’t hit anyone with a stick,” O’Shea said. “He had the stick.”
“Regardless, he needs to be taken to the hospital,” Jones interrupted. “He needs medical treatment.”
“Well, if he doesn’t have money, they’re not going to let him into the hospital,” Vanderholdt said. “And while I appreciate–“
“I know it’s sometimes hard for your class to understand this, but doctors do take care of those of us without money.”
“Really? This I have to see.”
Jones reached down and picked up the crank from the floor of the automobile, holding it over Vanderholdt’s lap. O’Shea got out and held the door for the man, who took the crank and handed it to him. O’Shea sighed and slipped off his wet overcoat, dropping it onto the seat. Then he went to the front of the vehicle and cranked it to life. By the time he got back in, he was very wet.
Jones drove them back to Arkham. They arrived at the hospital around 4:40 p.m., Vanderholdt asking Jones to park under a streetlight so he could read while the other men went in to see if the doctors would take the hobo. Jones left the motor running and he and O’Shea took the still unconscious hobo into the hospital. The nurse in the foyer immediately called an orderly, who brought a gurney. She told the man to take him to one of the examination rooms.
“We found this gentleman wandering around in the streets,” Jones said.
“Crazy,” O’Shea added.
“Okay,” the nurse said. “A doctor’s going to want to talk to you. Any information that you might have is going to be helpful to us. If you can wait here for just a minute.”
She followed the orderly and the gurney out of the room.
“We’ll wait right here,” Jones called after her.
He looked around and backed towards the front doors. O’Shea followed the man and they returned to the truck. They found Vanderholdt paging through De Vermiis Mysteriis and looking at pages of the sheaf of yellowed papers they’d found.
“I would say we go someplace, maybe get a bite to eat, until midnight,” Jones suggested.
“We’re going back tonight?” O’Shea asked.
“The ritual has to be performed at midnight,” Vanderholdt said.
“Can’t we look into this thing a little more before we ...?” O’Shea asked.
“As long as it’s before midnight,” Vanderholdt said.
O’Shea just looked at him.
“Why the rush?” he asked.
“No rush,” Vanderholdt said. “The ritual has to be performed at midnight.”
“Does it have to midnight tonight?”
“Just midnight. But, the longer we wait, the closer Merriweather is to dying. If we want to fulfill his dying wish: the sooner, the better. I now can fulfill his dying wish: that we perform this ritual.”
“And I really can’t keep the garage closed any longer,” Jones said.
“Somewhere with a payphone,” O’Shea said, giving up.
They went back to Walgreen’s, Jones parking next to Vanderholdt’s Stutz. When they arrived, they saw that their usual soda jerk was not present. The place was mostly empty and they got a booth in the far corner, Jones and O’Shea facing the room and Vanderholdt sitting down and opening up De Vermiis Mysteriis and comparing the old notes to the Latin in the book.
Jones and O’Shea both ordered egg salad sandwiches and chips. Vanderholdt asked the soda jerk to bring the pot of coffee and to keep the coffee coming as they were going to be working late. The youth noted that Walgreen’s was only open until 9 p.m. Vanderholdt borrowed O’Shea’s notebook again and, before the food even arrived, was able to finish comparing the entries in De Vermiis Mysteriis to the papers they’d found in the shack. He found that whoever wrote them out originally had done a very good job of translating from the text.
It was around 5 p.m. when the sandwiches arrived. O’Shea once again took his sandwich apart, eating the egg salad with a fork and then eating the bread and the chips. Jones merely shoved his sandwich into his mouth, globs falling off it. He licked his fingers and only used his fork to pick up the egg salad that fell onto his plate.
After eating, O’Shea went to the telephone booth. He first called the Kingsport Chronicle but the line merely rang and rang without an answer. Then he tried to call the small apartment house in Kingsport where his brother Michael lived. After it rang several times, there was a click on the line.
“Hello?” a quiet voice said.
“Michael O’Shea, please,” Alan said.
“Which one is he in?”
“Bobby? Is that you? Put your daddy on the phone.”
“Well, he’s not here.”
“Put your mommy on the phone.”
“She’s not here either. Daddy said if I can’t take care of myself at age 6 then–“
“Bobby! Go knock on the nearest door. Tell an adult to come to the phone.”
“Okay. Is this Mr. Oshee?”
A minute later he heard a fumbling at the other end of the line.
“Mikey?” Alan asked.
“Come down to the Walgreens.”
“I was just about to go out and get some dinner.”
“Come down to the Walgreens and have dinner here.”
“Got some people I think you might want to meet.”
“Bring a pencil. Some paper.”
“Hey, Alan, I’m off the job. I was going to try to go out–“
“You’re not going to want to miss this, Mikey.”
“See you soon.”
The line clicked as Michael hung up.
* * *
Michael O’Shea was an average-looking man with dark hair. He worked as a reporter and editor for the Kingsport Chronicle and had for the last six months or so, coming home to Kingsport from Boston for the job. Before that, he had tried, of all things, to break into major league baseball with the Boston Red Sox. Though he had been an excellent high school baseball player, he had not been able to make it into the big leagues.
He guessed that he could borrow Bobby Smith Senior’s Model T Ford, if Smith and his wife hadn’t taken it to wherever they were that night. Bobby Smith often leant the automobile to O’Shea with the agreement that O’Shea would replace any gasoline he used. It was a soft top model T, and it took a little cranking to get the engine started, but he eventually got the car underway, though he didn’t know where the side panels were so went without. He left a note for Bobby Smith.
It was a cold, wet ride to Arkham.
* * *