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Lost Port Royal Part 2 - The Yellow Sign Returns

* * *   It was evening before Theo found his brother. He was with Jeagar.   “The next time we get a job, we should go together,†Jeagar was saying to Flint. “Then we could run all of the cannons on the ship at the same time.†  “But usually ship have one gunnery master and you want two,†Flint said.   “There’s no rule that says there can’t be two!†  “Are you going to take all the money and I don’t get any?†  “No! Why would I do that?†  “You’ve done it before.†  “I don’t recall that.†  “What about Theo?†  “He … could come.†  “I usually have to ask Theo if it’s a good idea. He doesn’t like you very much.†  “He always gives me these strange looks.†  “Yeah, he thinks that you’re odd. He thinks that nobody should be missing as much of their body as you are.†  “I’m just one of the lucky ones!†  “We have different idea of what luck is.†  “Well, I would be more lucky if I didn’t lose them but … I’m still alive.†  “What kind of job do you even want to do?†  Jeagar told him some of his ideas but Flint quickly stopped paying attention. Theo found them while Jeagar was claiming to have invented grapeshot.   “Hello brother!†Theo said. “Hello … Jeagar.†  “Theo …†Flint said. “Theo, did you go do the yelling stuff with the lady again?†  “Surprisingly not this time, brother.†  “Why do you say your name all the time when you’re with her?†  “Are you admitting to eavesdropping, brother? I told you to plug your ears, brother.†  “It didn’t matter! I still heard you. I think the whole town heard you once.†  “All right, all right, all right. I’ve just come along to share some information I’ve gotten. Not too much information. Just a phrase in particular. A name. A place. Something. You haven’t heard of it, brother, I know you haven’t. But have you heard of Carcosa, Jeagar?†  “It does not ring any bells,†Jeagar said.   “Ah, well, that’s not new,†Theo said.   “What’s Carcosa?†Flint said.   “I don’t know, brother,†Theo said. “Something I’m trying to find out now. We’ll probably have to ask around the locals, who know the town a little bit better than we do.†  “Mr. Jeagar wants me to do another job with him.†  “What happened the last time, brother?†  “He lost a part of his body.†  “Well, we’ll put that idea to rest.†  Theo glared at Jeagar.   “That was a mistake!†Jeagar said defensively.   “Mm!†Theo said. “It always is a mistake, Jeagar. While you’re of no use to me, I suppose the two of you can have the rest of your night, unless, brother, you want to accompany me to our lodgings.†  “There is somewhere I actually have to be,†Jeagar said.   “All right,†Theo said. “Well, then let’s be off, brother.†  “Have a nice night, Flint,†Jeagar said.   “Bye bye Mr. Jeagar,†Flint said.   “See you later,†Jeagar said.   They parted ways.   * * *   Once they had secured their lodgings and Flint was sleeping, Theo went out to ask people about Carcosa. He learned that many people were talking about Carcosa but no one seemed to know what it was. Only the people who were acting strange seemed to know anything and it was impossible to get anything coherent out of them. They said they would always remember Carcosa or they were going back to Carcosa or that they knew Carcosa, but none of them would … or possibly even could … say what Carcosa was.   * * *   Alice was the only prostitute in Port Royal who would sleep with Jeagar. She was very beautiful but cost a great deal, usually reserving herself for the upper crust. She had, for some unknown reason, a soft spot for Jeagar, though that didn’t mean she was going to lower her prices for the man. It was the reason he had become a pirate, actually. He needed the money for her.   He gave her most of his money and she was happy to spend the night with the man, the two of them pleasuring each other. Between their lovemaking, he learned she had heard a rumor of strange voices sometimes heard in the night, calling and calling. She had heard no words could be made out, however.   * * *   Fowler and Dr. Leighlin had terrible nightmares that night. The horrific dreams seemed to be about the sign they had all seen the day before, or a man wearing tattered yellow robes who wore a crown but kept his face covered by a pallid mask, or of something beneath the lake that was always there in their dreams, always nearby.   * * *   Sunday, June 1, 1692, dawned as hot and beautiful as many days did in Port Royal.   Acting Governor White had ordered soldiers out the night before to patrol the street and arrest anyone caught putting up more of the terrible signs or sigils. Despite all of that, however, there was disquiet, distress, and even terror on the streets of Port Royal that day. Voice cried out in horror and despair.   * * *   Brün Jeagar pushed the shutters open on Alice’s window. He thought he saw pieces of paper pasted on the walls on the street below. He could not make out the single symbol on each paper and didn’t particularly want to. He guessed it was the same as the day before, however. People were obviously distressed by what they saw.   * * *   Flint Dawson was up early that morning and left their small room quickly.   Flint, though he was not wise enough to understand, exactly, what was going on, had an impression that the pieces of paper that day were different from the day before. In a flash of inspiration, he realized the papers were all printed as opposed to being hand drawn. He tore down one of the sheets and saw there was something small printed on the back.   Unfortunately, he couldn’t read.   “Theo!†he called out, looking around himself.   He ran back to the room to tell Theo.   * * *   Sam Fowler also heard the sounds in the streets that morning. At breakfast with his parents, with whom he lived, he asked if they knew anything about the strange things happening in Port Royal of late. Neither of them did though both had seen the symbols and didn’t like them at all. Fowler decided to eat breakfast at home and stay off the streets that morning.   * * *   Upon waking, Dr. Merriam Leighlin wrote down what little he could remember of the terrible dreams of the night before. Then he heard the noises in the street and went out to investigate. He saw the fliers with the terrible sigil upon them and noticed they were printed as opposed to being hand-drawn as those had been the day before.   He stared at the terrible symbol for over a minute, rooted to the spot and terrified as it reached for him once again, seemingly writhing horribly as if it were alive.   * * *   Dean Ackworth, Esq., looking out onto the street and seeing the papers and how people were reacting to them, began to draft a letter home about the strangeness of the colonies and how feeble the minds of the colonials were.   * * *   Theo Dawson was laying in bed, fantasizing about Lily, when the door burst open and Flint rushed in, paper in hand.   “Theo! Theo! Theo! Theo!†Flint cried.   “Brother, we talked about knocking!†Theo said.   “Theo! Theo! I have … smart thought.†  “What, brother?†  “I found paper outside. Again. But this time, it’s not drawn. See? Look.†  He shoved the paper into Theo’s face and the man flinched. Then Flint turned it over to reveal something printed on the back.   “Theo, I can’t read,†Flint said. “Who did this?†  “Brother, you know good and well I can’t read either!†Theo said.   “I forgot. Theo, who can read this?†  “I don’t know. Probably one of the rich men. Maybe … even the doctor.†  “Breakfast man?†  “Perhaps. Perhaps. He’s educated.†  “Let’s go to Mr. Breakfast Man’s house.†  “I will meet you there.†  Flint ran out of the room again.   * * *   Once Dr. Leighlin had recovered from his strange terror, he ripped the piece of paper off the wall and examined it carefully. Printed on the back in very small print were the words “Joseph Gill, Printer, Cannon Street.†He stuffed the piece of paper into his shirt and ran towards Cannon Street.   As he ran south, he spotted Flint running in his direction with one of the pieces of paper in his hand.   “I had a smart thought!†Flint was saying and smiling. “I had a smart thought!†  The two stopped when they reached each other.   “Do tell, my boy,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “This new paper printed, not drawn. Printed,†Flint said. “I don’t read though.†  “Ah!†  Dr. Leighlin told him what was printed on the back of the paper.   “I’m heading there right now,†Dr. Leighlin said.   Flint gasped.   “You can read?†he said.   “Yes, my boy!†Dr. Leighlin said.   “You’re amazing. Even Theo can’t read.†  “Oh, my boy.†  Dr. Leighlin touched Flint’s head, wondering what had gone wrong with the man.   “I’m going to Breakfast Man’s house!†Flint said. “Wait. But you already read it so there’s no point.†  He frowned. Then he realized it was another smart thought.   “I had another smart thought!†he said, running back the way he’d come.   The man only made it 20 yards or so before he ran back to Dr. Leighlin.   “What was the name again?†he asked.   “Joseph Gill, Printer, Cannon Street,†Dr. Leighlin said.   Flint turned and ran away again, calling out “Joseph Gill Cannon Street. Joseph Gill Cannon Street.†  Dr. Leighlin raced for Cannon Street.   * * *   Fowler was still at his house when his mother entered the room.   “Those papers!†she cried out in frustration. “Oh!†  She had several of the sheets of paper which she was ripping up and taking out to the cook room to burn. Fowler decided it was prudent to stay inside for the time being.   * * *   Ackworth finished his letter and put it into an envelope, leaving the house to take it to the customs house so it could be sent back to England with the next ship. He ripped one of the strange papers off a wall, folding it and putting it into the envelope with the letter.   He ran into Jeagar on the way down the street. The man had a sly smirk on his face.   “Where are we going?†Jeagar said.   “I’m going to the customs house,†Ackworth said.   Jeagar fell into pace with him, hoping for a free breakfast.   “These things look really strange,†he said to the other man. “If you look at them right, they come at you.†  “I don’t know what you mean,†Ackworth said.   “It feels like these posters have it out for you. When you look at them. Don’t you see that?†  “I don’t know what you are seeing here.†  “Maybe you’re stronger of character.†  * * *   Theo was just getting comfortable in the bed again, fantasizing about relations with Lily, when the door burst open and Flint ran in again. Theo sat up.   “Joseph Gill Cannon Street!†Flint called out. “Joseph Gill Cannon Street!†  “What are you saying, brother?†Theo said. “What are you saying?†  “Joseph Gill Cannon Street! Joseph Gill Cannon Street!†  “What is that, brother? Is that the text? Is that what it said?†  “The strange doctor read it for me!†  “Oh good, you’re seeing him. That’s good.†  “He’s smarter than you because he can read. And you’re smarter than me because I fell on head.†  “Yes, brother, you tell us every day.†  “How many times I fall on head again? Is it … the big number?†  “Yes.†  “What we do now?†  “Well, I guess we should investigate. But first I have to check on my … sweet Lily.†  “You always check on her! We need to … focus … I forgot what focus means but you tell me to focus a lot!†  “Absolutely.†  “I don’t know what that word is either.†  Flint swung the blunderbuss on its strap, taking it from his back.   “Do I have to go see him alone?†he asked.   “No, brother, you don’t need to use weaponry against the townsfolk,†Theo said.   “But they do what I say when I hold it.†  “Let’s put it away for now … and then if we need it we can get it out.†  “I’m gonna go find the cripple man.†  “Jeagar?†  “Yeah! Mr. Jeagar!†  “Okay, brother.†  “He likes to use guns like I do.†  “Oh! Such a good example. You go on your way, boy.†  “Why don’t you go do the mm-mm-mm?†  Flint walked out of the room, feeling neglected.   * * *   Flint walked down the street and had a third smart thought, already that day. He remembered Jeagar usually tried to eat with Ackworth as the gentleman adventurer often paid for those around him. He guessed the two might be at the Catt and Fiddle again.   He was walking up Lime Street towards the North Docks when he saw William.   William was a friend of Flint. Only six years old, the child and the big man had become fast friends as they were on the same mental level. They enjoyed playing children’s games and chasing the seagulls in Port Royal. William was the only one Flint really trusted completely in Port Royal aside from his brother Theo. William had never let him down.   “William!†the man said.   William stood in front of his house. In one hand, he held one of the flyers. He stared directly to the east at the sun, just visible down another street.   “William!†Flint said, approaching the child. “Don’t look at sun. It’s bad for eyes.†  The boy didn’t reply. Flint ran up to the boy and pushed him to the ground.   “I told you,†Flint said.   The boy didn’t get up but turned his head to stare at the bright sun.   “No!†Flint said. “Stop, William!†  He turned the boy over and the child turned his head to look directly at the sun.   “William, you better stop playing,†Flint said. “I don’t like this game.†  “Have you found the yellow sign?†William mumbled.   “You mean the sun?†Flint said.   William, still staring at the sun, held up the piece of paper.   “What?†Flint said. “I have one!†  “Have you found the yellow sign?†William said again.   “Stop looking at the sun, William!†Flint said, holding the boy’s head down so he couldn’t see the sun.   “I say, what’s he doing to that boy?†a passer-by.   His companion shushed him.   “It’s that crazy person!†the other man said.   “Help!†Flint said. “This boy keeps looking at the sun! Help!†  People avoided him. William struggled feebly against the man, trying to turn his head towards the sun. He finally picked the child up, holding his hand over the boy’s eyes.   “C’mon William,†he said. “We’re going to get breakfast.†  The boy turned his head towards the sun, but Flint kept his hand over the boy’s eyes. It was strange but, as they walked, the child continued to turn his head towards the sun despite Flint’s changing of direction.   “William, you’re so silly,†Flint said.   * * *   Dr. Leighlin reached Cannon Street and found the shop of Joseph Gill. The word “Printer†was over the door, which was closed. The shutters were also closed.   “Damn,†he muttered.   He tried to look through the cracks in the shutters but it was very dark within. He noticed the upper floors had open windows but all of the windows downstairs were shut up.   He went to the end of the block and climbed over the walls that led to the yards behind the houses. He eventually got to the correct building, noting the cook room in the yard behind the house. He found the back door locked as well so he kicked it open.   It was dim inside, with little light coming through the cracks in the shutters. The room appeared to be a print room and was a mess with scattered items and paper everywhere. A small printing press stood in one corner, a set of steps went up in another, and a man sat on the floor in a third. The man stared at the press and muttered to himself, his eyes wide open. Next to him was a small pouch with shiny coins peeking out.   “Have you seen the Yellow Sign?†he muttered as Dr. Leighlin crossed the room to him. “I’ve seen the Yellow Sign. It’s there. It’s there.†  He pointed at the press.   “It’s there,†he said again. “The Sign is there. The Yellow Sign. Don’t look at it! The Yellow Sign is there. It’s there.†  He laughed insanely.   “The Yellow Sign is there,†he said. “Yes.†  He laughed again.   Dr. Leighlin walked around the room and saw papers were scattered all over the floor. A few cupboards were open and typeset and various tools were lying on the floor under them, as if someone had opened them up and just pulled everything out. A few cupboards were open but still filled with various items. A key was in the lock in the front door. Light came down from the stairwell.   “What happened here?†Dr. Leighlin said.   The man laughed again.   “He came,†he said with a smile, still staring at the printing press. “He came. He’s─†  “Who?†Dr. Leighlin asked.   “Him. Him.†  “Him?†  “He’s the one.†  “Capital H?†  The madman pointed at the printing press and laughed.   “And then … it’s still there!†he said, his voice lowering to a whisper. “It’s in the printing press! Don’t go. Don’t go!†  “What’s there?†Dr. Leighlin asked.   “Don’t! Don’t! Don’t go! Don’t go there! It’s in there! It’s in there! I tried to stop it!†  “Man! Man!†  “It’s in there! It’s in there! It’s in there!†  Dr. Leighlin slapped the man smartly across the face. He went quiet for a moment.   “Don’t go near the printing press!†he then went on. “Don’t do it! Don’t do it!†  Dr. Leighlin went over to the press and the man let out a squeal.   “Quiet, man!†Dr. Leighlin said.   “Don’t look!†Gill said. “Don’t look!†  Dr. Leighlin looked at the typeface on the printing press and saw it was made of lead and, instead of being print, it was the terrible symbol that was on the paper he had in his shirt. Reversed, it seemed to reach for him, squirming and grabbing at the man, who stumbled back and suddenly realized how dark it was in the room. He let out a shout and found it hard to breathe. Gill echoed his scream.   “See!?!†he cried out. “See!?! See!?! No! No! No! See!?! See!?! See!?! No! See!?! See!?! No! See!?!†  “Shut up!†Dr. Leighlin cried. “Just shut up!†  “See!?! See!?! See!?!†Gill screamed.   Dr. Leighlin fled.   * * *   Flint found Jeagar and Ackworth at the Catt and the Fiddle. Ackworth was drinking sherry and eating breakfast and Jeagar was drinking beer when the mentally deficient man entered carrying a child.   “Silly William, stop looking at the sun,†Flint said.   He took his hand off the boy’s eyes and the child looked towards the eastern wall.   “Now Flint, who have you got there?†Ackworth asked.   “This is my friend, William,†Flint said. “He wants to look at the sun all day.†  “That’s not good for you.†  “I … well, I tried to tell him that. He just keeps looking at it. Can we have breakfast?†  They noticed the child had one of the pieces of paper in his hand.   “He probably shouldn’t have this,†Ackworth said.   He pulled on the piece of paper. It tore in half as the child had the paper clutched in his fist. Ackworth tore up the part that he had.   “Hey!†Flint said. “Don’t! I was trying to tell you something … what was I trying to tell you? Give me breakfast and I shall remember! And some for William as well?†  “Sure,†Ackworth said.   As the food arrived, Dr. Leighlin appeared in the door of the tavern, shaking.   “What happened to you?†Jeagar said.   “You wouldn’t believe me,†Dr. Leighlin said. “You wouldn’t believe me.†  “I’ve seen a lot of mad things lately.†  “The … the … this.†  Dr. Leighlin pulled out the printed paper from his jacket.   “This is bad,†he said. “This is bad.†  “Ah, I mailed one of those,†Ackworth said.   “That’s what it was!†Flint said. “Joseph Gill Cannon Street! Joseph Gill Cannon Street!†  “Yes,†Dr. Leighlin said. “I went …†  “Did you say Joseph kill chemistry?†Ackworth said.   “No,†Flint said. “Joseph Gill, Cannon …†  “I went to Cannon Street,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “Cannon Street,†Flint said.   “Joseph Gill on Cannon Street,†Ackworth said. “The printer.†  “He’s printing these,†Flint said. “I thought of that.†  “I was there!†Dr. Leighlin said. “I was there! He was … he was … sitting there! He was sitting there in the dark and … I-I-I … I couldn’t help it. I just. I tried to knock him out and it didn’t … it didn’t take and there was …†  “Just calm down,†Ackworth said. “Take a seat. Have some food and drink and we’ll talk afterwards.†  Dr. Leighlin called for brandy and drank it down, nearly choking on it.   “Thank you,†he said.   He looked them over as a man took his empty cup.   “I went in … there was a room,†Dr. Leighlin said. “There was a room beside─†  The man brought another cup of brandy. Dr. Leighlin took another drink.   “There was a room beside … there was a room that the man told me not to go into and I went anyway,†he said. “And this symbol! This symbol! It jumped out at me!†  “That’s what I was talking to you about,†Jeagar said to Ackworth.   “It jumped at me!†Dr. Leighlin said. “I have no idea. I have no idea what for.†  They all looked at him.   “It’s … it’s quite bothersome,†Jeagar said.   William kept turning his head towards the wall to look at the sun and Flint continued to pull it back.   “Why did you go before you had breakfast?†Flint said.   “It does seem like a poor thing to do on an empty stomach,†Ackworth said.   “We’re supposed to be a group. And we need breakfast first.†  “What? A group?†  “Where’s my food?†  The food arrived.   “I saw this in a dream!†Dr. Leighlin said. “I saw this in my nightmare! Have any of you? I’m starting to worry for my own sanity.†  “You’re worried about it?†Jeagar said.   “Deeply. This is not me. I don’t do this! Have any of your experienced something like this?†  “Some of those flyers were coming right out at me.†  “At you, sir?†  “Yes.†  “It sounds like what you are all experiencing is called an optical illusion,†Ackworth said.   “This was no optical illusion!†Dr. Leighlin said.   “Just a mere trick on the brain,†Ackworth said.   Flint raised his hand.   “Yes, Flint?†Ackworth said.   “What is optical delusion?†Flint asked.   “Oh, nice twist on it, sir,†Ackworth said.   He began to tell Flint about optical illusions. Flint put the food in front of William but he ignored it. He put some food in the boy’s mouth and the boy chewed and swallowed it. Dr. Leighlin looked at the boy, standing up and going to him. He started inspecting the child, who seemed to be out of sorts, possibly due to an imbalance of the humors, perhaps too much bile. He felt the boy’s head.   “Hey, doctor,†Flint said. “Can you look at his eyes. I think he might have looked at the sun for too long.†  Dr. Leighlin looked at the lad’s eyes. They were terribly injured by his staring at the sun.   “Also, I didn’t do it,†Flint said. “Will he be able to chase the seagulls with me again?†  Dr. Leighlin didn’t think the boy had done permanent damage to his eyes.   Fowler came in through the door, his hand over his own eyes, partially shielding them. He had finally worked up the courage to leave his house but feared seeing the terrible sign that had so disturbed him and filled his dreams the night before. He made out, while trying not to look, the sounds and sights of soldiers ripping down the papers on his way north along Lime Street. He breathed a little easier when he got in the door of the Catt and Fiddle. He looked carefully around the room but didn’t see any of the terrible flyers.   “Fowler, are your eyes quite right?†Dr. Leighlin asked.   “They’re fine,†Fowler said. “It’s those God-forsaken symbols.†  “Oh, you mean like these?†Jeagar said, holding up the piece of paper Dr. Leighlin had brought.   “Don’t show that to me!†Fowler cried out, closing his eyes tightly.   “What is the matter with you!?!†Dr. Leighlin said.   “Joseph Gill Cannon Street!†Flint said. “Joseph Gill Cannon Street!†  Fowler reached for Jeagar, blindly grabbing the paper and ripping it to pieces.   “No!†Flint howled.   “You can get more off the street later,†Jeagar said.   “There’s plenty more out there,†Ackworth said.   “What is this boy doing here?†Fowler said.   He turned to Dr. Leighlin.   “You’re not going to do something to him, are you?†he went on.   “Well, I’m not sure,†Dr. Leighlin said, offended. “If he needs my help, of course.†  “He won’t stop looking at the sun,†Flint said.   “He’ll go blind,†Fowler said.   “Well, I feel like if we all want to go talk to Joseph Gill, we probably should head over there before the soldiers do,†Ackworth said, sipping at his brandy.   “Who’s Joseph Gill?†Fowler asked.   “The man who printed these,†Ackworth said.   “Cannon Street!†Flint said.   “Do not go there!†Dr. Leighlin said. “Do not go there!†  “What am I supposed to do with William?†Flint said.   “You were right not to look,†Dr. Leighlin said to Fowler.   “Thank you!†Fowler said.   “I’m going to go talk to the barkeep,†Flint said, standing. “Maybe he knows his family.†  Ackworth paid for their food. Jeagar followed close behind.   “Where did you find this boy?†Dr. Leighlin asked.   “He was outside,†Flint said. “Looking at the sun.†  “Just the sun?†Dr. Leighlin said, picking up the paper with the sign upon it. “Did he have one of these?†  Fowler looked directly at the piece of paper but looked away quickly. He reached out blindly and grabbed the piece of paper, ripping it to shreds.   Flint walked over to the barkeep, Peter Litton, who was always quite polite to him.   “Yes, Mr. Dawson?†Litton said. “I trust you’ve had a pleasant breakfast?†  “It was very nice,†Flint said.   “Oh, very good. Very good. I’m so happy for that.†  Flint laid the boy on the bar.   “I … can’t cook that, sir,†Litton said. “I’m sorry.†  “This is my friend William,†Flint said. “He won’t stop looking at the sun.†  “Oh dear.†  “See how his head … watch.†  He pushed the boy’s head to one side but the child immediately turned it back to look at the east wall.   “I’m very sad for him, but I don’t─†Flint said.   “He needs a doctor,†Litton said.   “I don’t know his last name. I don’t know who his family is.†  “Very well. Very well. I will find out who his parents are and we’ll return him to them.†  “Thank you!†  He turned away from the barkeep but then turned back.   “I didn’t do anything,†he said.   “Oh no no no,†Litton said. “He … strange times. Strange times. Strange times.†  He took the boy and sat him in the chair nearby.   “Don’t look at the sun,†Flint said.   “Very good point,†Litton said. “You’re very wise.†  * * *   Dr. Leighlin was able to get another of the flyers but found several red-coated soldiers ripping them down. The men were not reacting well to the strange sign. One man started laughing hysterically as he tore the flyers down. Another appeared to be crying.   He returned to his surgery in order to test the ink to see if there was something strange or special about it. He learned only that the ink and paper were typical. There was nothing special or strange about it at all. Chemically, it was just a symbol printed on a piece of paper.   * * *   Theo had returned to Lily Campbell’s house. He learned from the servants that Captain Campbell was still away, his ship not having yet returned. Mrs. Campbell had wanted to go out again that morning but the servants had persuaded her to stay in the house. She had not left.   “Her spirits seem to be better today,†one of them told Theo as he dropped a few coins in his hand.   Theo made his way to Lily’s bedroom and found his lady-love sitting on her bed. She was pleased to see him, standing up and putting her arms around his ample shoulders. She laid her head on his chest.   “I don’t know what happened yesterday,†she said. “Something … terrible. I saw something terrible. I-I … I meant to go out this morning. I had to go out this morning but the servants wouldn’t let me. They said that I should stay. They said that I should stay. I have not been out but I hear terrible things are happening in town. I-I …†  She was obviously quite distraught.   He put his arm around her waist and his hand to her cheek, lifting her chin to look into her eyes.   “But you are feeling better, my love?†he asked.   “They said that you were here yesterday but I do not remember it,†she said. “I do not recall. It was as if my mind was gone. As if something had stolen it away. I don’t remember anything of that day. It’s as if the day never happened.†  “Well, you’re safe as long as you’re indoors. There’s something happening right now and we can’t explain it. There’s no answers right now. But, as long as you’re safe, that’s all that matters.†  “Oh! Oh Theo! Kiss me! Make me feel like a woman … like Joseph can’t!†  Theo did so, spending the day in the house with Lily.   * * *

Max_Writer

Max_Writer

 

Lost Port Royal Part 3 - The Mad Printer

* * *   On the way to Cannon Street, Ackworth finally noticed the terrible symbol squirm on the piece of paper and reach for him an way most unnatural. It came at him and he drew his smallsword and swung at the reaching thing. The sword scraped across the wall, cutting the piece of paper in half. That was when he realized the only way to make sure it never happened again: digest the terrible papers.   He dropped his sword and grabbed the papers, shoving them in his mouth and chewing them. They tasted foul.   “Stop!†Flint shouted. “We already had breakfast!†  “Give me the papers!†Ackworth screamed between bites. “Give me the papers! Give me the papers!†  Flint swung his blunderbuss off his back and aimed at the man, terrified. Ackworth looked at the gun but ignored the man, continuing to rip the papers from the wall and shoving them in his mouth. The ink ran, blackening his mouth.   “Where’s Theo!?!†Flint cried out, tears running down his face.   “Does Theo have papers!?!†Ackworth screamed.   “Calm yourself, Mr. Ackworth!†Fowler shouted at him.   “Does anybody still have papers!†the enraged Ackworth shouted back.   He continued tearing down the flyers on Cannon Street, shoving them into his mouth and nearly choking on the heavy paper and the foul-tasting black ink. Fowler moved to the man, taking out his musket, and tried to club the man with the butt of it. He only managed a glancing blow on the man’s arm. Ackworth ignored him and continued to eat the papers.   “What the hell are you doing!?!†Jeagar said to Fowler.   “I …†Fowler said.   He put his musket back on his back and they all just watched the man eating the papers for a minute and a half or so.   “Are you okay, sir?†Jeagar said when he finally stopped.   Ackworth spit out several pieces of paper, hacking up some that were still in his throat.   “You see?†Jeagar said. “I told you these posters were up to no good.†  “Why did you do that?†Flint said, face wet with tears.   “I don’t know,†Ackworth said.   “Have you gone mad, Mr. Ackworth?†Fowler said.   “Haven’t … haven’t we … yes,†Ackworth said. “Yes.†  He thought upon it.   “It was a rather … intriguing experience,†he said.   “I can imagine,†Fowler said. “You just ate several pieces of paper!†  “Well, let’s go see Joseph Gill!†Ackworth said, his voice cracking.   They continued on to the shop of Joseph Gill and found the place locked up and the shutters closed. They proceeded around the back, through several yards, and found the back door open, the lock broken. The shop inside was dim and they found the man in the corner, staring at the small printing press.   “That must be Joseph Gill,†Jeagar said. “Joseph?†  “Joseph Gill, is that you?†Fowler said.   Jeagar moved into the building but to one side. The others approached the man.   “Joseph, what’s going on here?†Ackworth asked.   The man muttered to himself.   “Joseph, it’s okay,†Fowler said. “There’s nothing here.†  Flint went to the printing press. Jeagar moved to the coin purse.   “Have you seen … the Yellow Sign?†Gill asked, pointing at the press. “I have seen the Yellow Sign.†  “What is the Yellow Sign?†Fowler asked.   “I’ve seen the Yellow Sign,†Gill said. “I’ve seen it and it’s there.†  “What about the coin purse, Joseph?†Ackworth asked.   “The Yellow Sign …†Gill said again.   “The coin purse, Joseph,†Ackworth said.   Flint walked up to the printing press, aiming his blunderbuss at it. He saw the type form with the inverted symbol and it seemed to move a little but didn’t come at him. He thought of shooting the press but realized it would not damage it much. An axe or a hatchet might. He remembered Jeagar carried a hatchet so asked for it.   “Where did you get that coin purse?†Ackworth asked. “Did someone pay you to do this?†  “It’s … it’s the coins,†Gill said. “The coins.†  “Oh, what?†Jeagar said. “These coins?†  He picked up the pouch of gold doubloons.   “Are the coins the Yellow Sign?†Fowler said.   “No!†Gill said. “No! No!†  Jeagar inspected the coins but they looked like typical Spanish doubloons.   “No, it doesn’t look like it,†he said.   “No,†Gill said. “No. No. No. No. The press. It’s the press.†  “Did the press make the coins?†Ackworth said.   “No,†Gill said. “The coins. No. No. No.†  “Who paid you?’ Ackworth said.   “The man!†Gill said.   “What man?†Fowler said.   “The Spanish priest!†Gill said.   “The Spanish priest?†Jeagar said.   “The Spanish priest?†Fowler said.   “He’s from Spain!†Jeagar said as tears flowed form Gill’s eyes.   “Was it the priest on York Street?†Ackworth asked.   Jeagar pocketed the coins.   “He came to me three nights ago,†Gill said. “He had a wallet filled with gold and a request. He wanted … he wanted a thousand printed pieces of paper with a symbol. He worked with me for some hours on Wednesday and Thursday to get the type form. We had to have it just right and then he left him to do the work Thursday night.   “But the symbol … the symbol … it’s alive!†  Gill grabbed Ackworth by the lapels of his jacket.   “Every printing … it reached for me, lunged at me!†Gill said. “Only my speed at the press kept it contained. It was mesmerizing. I couldn’t stop.†  Flint had gotten the hatchet from Jeagar and went over to the press. He started striking the press with the hatchet, startling them all.   “I was awoken Friday morning by the man,†Gill went on, ignoring the noise. “He paid me and took the printed papers. But he left the type form on the printing press! He said it was a ‘gift.’†  He laughed hysterically.   “I can’t leave the shop!†he said. “I locked it up because … it’ll escape! It’ll do terrible things! I know it’s here! It’s waiting for me to leave!†  He looked at Flint over Ackworth’s shoulder.   “Kill it!†he shrieked. “Kill it! Kill the type form! Kill it!†  “I am,†Flint said.   “That’s the press! Not the type form!†Gill screamed. “The type form! The type form!†  “Where is it?†Jeagar said.   Flint went back to destroying the press.   “He’s killing it!†Gill screamed. “Tell him to kill the type form! The type form!†  “Mr. Ackworth, can we set it on fire?†Fowler said. “Would that do it?†  Gill laughed insanely again.   “Kill it!†he screamed. “Kill it!†  Ackworth grabbed the man’s wrists and pulled himself free of the madman. He looked around as Fowler approached the press. He picked up a burlap bag and dumped the paper out of it. Then he headed for the press.   “Mr. Ackworth, hand the bag to me,†Fowler said.   Ackworth ignored him, removing the type form from the machine and shoving it into the bag. Flint continued to chop up the press as Gill giggled and bawled madly.   “You did it, Flint!†Jeagar said.   “I did it,†Flint said.   Fowler went back to Gill and tried to comfort the printer, managing to calm him down somewhat.   “He was a bald man,†Gill muttered to him. “He had a beard and mustache. A priest. Black robes. Spanish. Brown skin and a thick accent. He had fire in his eyes. He said Sodom and Gomorrah was coming soon.†  Someone banged on the front door of the shop.   “Who is it?†Flint said.   Ackworth ran out the back door.   “Joseph Gill, open up this door!†a voice from outside called.   “Joseph Gill from Cannon Street?†Flint asked.   “Open this door, Joseph Gill!†the man on the other side called. “You are under arrest for dissention and for spreading rumors, lies, and creating a riot.†  “One moment,†Flint called.   He and Jeagar fled out the back as Fowler went to the front door. As soon as he opened the door, the red-coated soldiers pushed their way in.   “Joseph Gill!?!†one of them yelled at Fowler.   “I’m not Joseph Gill!†Fowler said.   “You’re under arrest!†the soldier yelled.   “I’m not Joseph Gill!†Fowler yelled.   “Where is Joseph Gill!?!†the man yelled at him.   “He’s right there!†Fowler said, pointing. “He’s that man in the corner.†  “Joseph Gill!†the soldier yelled at the man.   He turned to Fowler.   “You stay where you are!†he said.   He turned back to Gill who laughed insanely at him.   The soldiers took both Gill and Fowler though the latter was released within an hour, narrowly avoiding looking at the terrible Yellow Sign during his questioning when a soldier shoved it in his face and demanded to know what he knew about it. Gill was taken away, screaming for them to please put his eyes out.   Fowler got safely home some time later.   * * *   Ackworth found a lead smith and paid the man to melt down the lead type form. He paid the man a pound and told him to melt it down in the bag. It didn’t take long to melt the type form down, the bag burning up the in the process. He told the smith to keep the lead.   * * *   Jeagar got together with them at dinner that night at the Catt and Fiddle and suggested they stay up that night to look for whomever was putting up the strange signs and sigils.   “Did you destroy the type form?†Fowler asked Ackworth.   The man nodded.   “Good,†Fowler said. “They have Mr. Gill in custody. They had me as well but they let me go.†  “You should have gone out the back,†Ackworth said.   They shared what information they had learned that day, Fowler telling them what the Spanish priest looked like.   “The Spaniards!†Jeagar said.   He suggested they watch the streets that night and catch the priest who was putting up the signs. Flint pointed out that man didn’t have a printing press anymore so there was no point. Jeagar noted the hand drawn sigils they saw two days before but Flint said he couldn’t do it all in one night. When Fowler said he had done that before, the man simply stated they didn’t know if that had all been done in one night.   Ackworth said he’d go visit the other printer in town and Fowler went with him. They found the man had printed some pamphlets and the like but it was obviously unrelated. Ackworth warned him about the strange Spanish priest and the symbol. The printer wanted nothing to do with it. At all. Ackworth paid the man to inform on the Spaniard if he came around and the printer was happy to help. He even opened a drawer to show the man a flintlock pistol and said he would detain him if the gentleman wished, or even shoot him if that was his preference.   “I’ll leave that up to you,†Ackworth said.   They returned to the Catt and Fiddle some time later and discussed watching over the town.   “I’m going with Mr. Jeagar ‘cause he’s going to let me shoot if I have to,†Flint said.   “I’ll accompany you,†Theo said.   “Finally!†Flint said.   His brother stank of sweat and sex.   In the end, they all decided to keep watch through the night.   * * *   There were no new instances of the Yellow Sign being painted or posted in Port Royal on Monday, June 2, 1692. It was another hot and beautiful day in Jamaica. They were all exhausted from staying up through most of the night, avoiding the small groups of roaming soldiers, and looking for any evil-doers and mischief-makers.   Dr. Merriam Leighlin had even less sleep than the others. He had acquired a distinct fear of the dark and so ordered his assistants to keep candles and lanterns burning through the night. When he did try to sleep, he was often awoken by his own screams as he had terrible and terrifying dreams of the Yellow Sign, the King in Yellow, and some horrible city.   When he would awake screaming, one of his assistants would run into the room.   “Are you okay, Master?†the man said.   “Get out!†Dr. Leighlin yelled at the man. “No!†  “Yes, master!†the man cried out, fleeing in panic. “Yes, master!†  This continued through the early morning hours and the physician got little sleep.   That morning, he had his assistants bring his breakfast and he ate on the balcony that overlooked the North Docks. He picked at his food. Nothing tasted good and he was completely exhausted. He watched the people walking by and the ships being unloaded.   He noticed a wagon being driven down the street with a coffin in the back. The driver wore black and had a white, puffy face that made Dr. Leighlin think of a coffin worm. As he passed the balcony, he looked up at Dr. Leighlin and stared at the man as he went by.   It was quite off-putting.   * * *   “I’m going to follow Mr. Jeagar,†Flint Dawson said to his brother Theo when he got up that morning. “Because at least he’s there.†  He left their tiny room without another word.   * * *   They all met for breakfast at the Catt and Fiddle later that morning.   “Flint!†Jeagar said.   “Yes?†Flint replied.   “I found where the captain misplaced your payment.†  “Oh, really?†  “Yeah. It was in strange, Spanish money.†  Jeagar handed Flint half the gold doubloons he’d found in the printer’s house the day before. Ackworth, Fowler, and Flint had all noticed the small coin purse, actually.   “Oh!†Flint said. “Thank you! These are really shiny.†  He looked at the doubloons.   “Wait,†he said. “Hold on a second.†  He bit one of the coins.   “Hey!†he said. “It’s real.†  He looked at Jeagar.   “Where can I even spend these?†Flint said.   “Wherever you want,†Jeagar said.   Flint looked across the table to Ackworth.   “I’m not going to tell him I have money for breakfast because I don’t want to spend it,†he said.   Dr. Leighlin wasn’t eating. He looked shaken.   “Are you okay?†Fowler said.   “You love the goose,†Jeagar said.   Dr. Leighlin let out a shriek.   “Why are you not eating?†Flint said.   “I … I don’t feel like it,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “Can you order something on his money and just give it to me?†Flint said.   “Just order what you want,†Ackworth said.   “I did,†Flint said.   “So, you’re hungry again, Mr. Flint?†Fowler said.   “Always,†Flint replied. “You never know when you’re not going to be able to eat again. Right, Theo?†  “That is so true,†Theo replied.   “I’ve always been able to eat,†Ackworth said.   “Remember that one time when we didn’t eat for three days?†Flint said. “And I almost thought about eating you?†  “Oh ho ho, brother!†Theo said. “Funny times.†  He didn’t like the memory.   “Excuse me,†a man said, stepping up to the table. “Which one of you is looking into this whole sign thing?†  “Uh …†Fowler said.   “Is it you?†the man said.   “No,†Fowler said. “Of course not.†  The man was disheveled and nondescript with messy hair, a beard, and a mustache.   “What sign thing?†Fowler said. “I don’t know anything about this sign thing.†  “I have seen the signs,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “You’ve seen the signs,†the man replied.   “I’ve seen things, sir─†Dr. Leighlin said.   “I believe we’ve all seen the signs,†Ackworth said.   “He wears no mask!†the man said, drawing a dagger and lunging at Dr. Leighlin.   The physician moved to one side and pushed the man’s arm away. Fowler leapt up and rushed the man, punching him solidly in the face. The man stumbled backwards. Dr. Leighlin drew his own knife and tried to cut the man but only tore his clothing. Ackworth drew his smallsword and tried to stab the man, who leapt to one side. Across the table, Flint stood up, pulled the blunderbuss from his shoulder, and blasted the man, blowing off his right arm.   The arm was ripped from the man’s body and he spun around twice before sagging to the ground, dead. A spray of blood spewed all over Dr. Leighlin, Ackworth, and Fowler. Theo had leapt out of his chair and was not touched.   People leapt from their chairs in the tavern, crying out in alarm.   “Oh my God!†one man yelled. “Such a disturbance! I’m trying to eat my breakfast!†  “Look out, it’s that madman!†a woman cried out, pointing at Flint. “He kills people!†  “He had a knife!†another person screamed.   The confusion lasted for nearly 10 minutes before it was worked out the man had drawn a knife and attacked Dr. Leighlin and the gunfire had been in self defense. Peter Litton went to get a mop while Flint carried the corpse outside.   “Sorry for the mess,†Flint called.   Litton picked up the arm and flung it into the street with the body.   Ackworth gave the barkeep some money and told him he wasn’t there. Litton was happy to comply.   Jeagar, meanwhile, searched the body. The man didn’t have any money on him but he did find a piece of paper in his pocket. It was a printed map of Port Royal with nice places on High Street and Lime Street marked with an “x.†They formed a “V†starting where the two streets met and going down perhaps 400 feet along each street, at least according to the scale of feet noted in one corner of the odd map.   “I’m sorry, everyone,†Flint said when he returned to the table.   “It’s all right, Flint,†Theo said. “Not your fault.†  Litton approached the table and told them their breakfast was on the house due to the incident.   “You don’t have to pay, Breakfast Man,†Flint said to Ackworth.   “Look,†Jeagar said, brandishing the map. “Looks like they were going to do something on these streets.†  “Hold on,†Flint said, picking up the map.   “What street is that?†Fowler said.   “What do these ‘x’s mean?†Flint asked.   “There might be treasure!†Jeagar said.   Flint’s eyes opened wide.   “I think I know where this is …†Flint said. “But I can’t read.†  “We’ll have to go after breakfast,†Jeagar said.   Fowler was not really hungry for breakfast anymore. Flint reached across and took the man’s food.   Dr. Leighlin had taken out a handkerchief and wiped the blood off his face. Then he sat once again, taking his brandy and staring off into the distance.   After they ate, they went to the corner of High Street and Lime Street. The wide, sandy street was filled with traffic, not unusual for two of the busiest streets in the port at that time of day. Nothing seemed strange or unusual as they approached the intersection from the north. They continued on to the places the markings seemed to indicate on the map, spreading out. Several of them noticed a divot in the sand in the spots where the markings lay. In those divots, the sand had sunk slightly.   Both Fowler and Flint noticed a couple of Negroes who seemed to be watching the group: a man and a woman. When they saw the two notice them, they turned and walked away. Fowler headed off, following them.   “I think there’s something bad over there we should look at,†Flint said to Jeagar.   Jeagar looked in that direction. There were dozens of people, several houses, and even a few ships visible.   “You mean Sam?†Jeagar said.   “Yeah, I think he saw them too,†Flint said.   Fowler went around the corner as Flint reloaded his blunderbuss in the middle of the street.   The two of them followed Fowler, Theo close behind them, but the man was gone by the time they got to the corner where he had disappeared.   “He has to be around here somewhere,†Flint said. “Let’s just keep looking.†  They wandered away.   * * *   Fowler followed the two Negroes down to Cannon Street where they talked to several other slaves and servants around Joseph Gill’s print shop. After watching them for a while, he casually walked by them in the street, hoping to catch part of the conversation. They seemed to be questioning the people about Joseph Gill and he heard one of the servants tell them the man had gone mad and was arrested for printing heretical pamphlets.   He went back to watching them from a distance.   * * *   Ackworth drew his smallsword and stabbed it into the divot.   “Excuse me, sir!†a man called from behind him.   He looked around to see a wagon being pulled by a horse standing there, trying to get by.   “One moment!†Ackworth called. “I’m investigating here! Here. Take this. Go around me.†  He handed the man two pounds.   “Yes sir!†the man said. “Go around this man! He’ll give you two pounds!†  He pulled his horse to one side and went around the man. Others started to walk towards Ackworth. He quickly stabbed the sword down into the sand, putting as much weight on it as he could. The weapon went down about two feet, nearly to the hilt, and then struck something. It shouldn’t have.   “I’m waiting for my two pounds, sir,†someone behind him said.   “Here’s your two pounds,†Ackworth said, tossing the coins at the man.   As he walked away, he heard a woman clear her throat behind him.   “Oh,†she said. “Um … damn!†  “Sorry,†Ackworth said. “You lost your chance.†  The woman cried a little bit and walked away as Ackworth headed off to buy a shovel. He found Dr. Leighlin wandering around Lime Street, looking at the sand but obviously oblivious to anything there.   Ackworth returned to the spot where he’d found the divot and noticed a red-coated soldier nearby. The man had a musket on his back, the bayonet already mounted. He approached the soldier.   “Yes sir?†the soldier said. “May I help you, sir?†  “I’m doing a big of investigation on these strange occurrences,†Ackworth said. “And I need to do some excavation on this road.†  “On High Street?†  “Yes, just a small, little section of it.†  “On High Street?†  “Yes.†  “On the busiest street …†  “Yes.†  “… in the whole God damned town.†  “Yes.†  You realize … no! No, sir. That’s ridiculous. There’s too much traffic. There’s too many people trying to go back and forth. It’s too busy. I’m sorry. Excavation? What’re you? Some kind of … excavator?†  He looked at the man.   “I’m sorry sir,†the soldier said. “We can’t stop traffic on High Street. It’s a very busy street.†  “We have reason to believe that there are precious mineral deposits underneath the earth,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “There’s sand underneath the earth!†the soldier said.   Dr. Leighlin took out three pounds in coins. The soldier looked at it greedily.   “All right,†the soldier said. “I think that’s all right.†  He pocketed the money.   “Don’t you be taking too long sir,†he said to Ackworth.   “All right,†Ackworth replied.   “Sirs,†the soldier said.   “For the Queen.†  “God bless the King and the Queen.†  Ackworth handed Leighlin a shovel and they went to the spot on the street. As Ackworth began digging, people started to shout at him and curse at him to get out of the way.   “Oh, p*** off!†Dr. Leighlin yelled.   Ackworth just grinned and kept working. Someone threw a rotten tomato at the man but he persevered. After an hour or so of digging and taking abuse, he came to a little circle of basalt about a foot in diameter. Digging a little further revealed it was some kind of pillar or plinth.   “Do you want to come back tonight or do you want to continue?†he asked Dr. Leighlin.   “Get out of the damned way, you stupid git!†someone yelled.   “I honestly can’t take any more of this,†Dr. Leighlin said. “I don’t know why I decided to do this anyway, so … we’ll come back in the morning.†  “I’m gonna whip you upside you’re stupid ugly face!†  “I said ‘p*** off!’†  Dr. Leighlin walked away.   “Fill in that God-damned hole you stupid … pansy!†the man yelled.   Ackworth removed one of his gloves and turned to the man, who was quite small but very loud. He slapped the little man across the face with his glove.   “Bert!†the little man shouted. “Get over here! I got a duel to fight again! Clem! C’mere!†  Two very large men got out of the back of the wagon as the little man lifted his fists and started dancing around.   “C’mon!†he shouted. “C’mon! I’ve got this! Clem, back me up! Bert!†  “Oh, we’ll back you up,†Bert said.   “That’s a pretty pansy move, don’t you think?†Ackworth said.   “Oh! Oh! Coming from a dandy!?!†the little man said. “Coming from a dandy!?! Oh! Oh! I’ve got the moves! I’ve got the moves!†  “I may be a dandy but I’m not a pansy.†  “Bert, punch him in the face a few times!†  “Bert’s gonna punch me in the face! That’s a pretty pansy move! That’s what I’m talking about!†  “Oh, you call me a pansy! I’m insulted, sir!†  The man looked around for something to hit Ackworth with. Unable to find anything, he took of his disgusting, sweaty shirt and slapped the man in the face with it. It left Ackworth’s face dripping wet.   Dr. Leighlin ran back down the street and grabbed Ackworth by the arm.   “Man. My God, what are you doing?†he said to him.   “Are they your seconds?†Ackworth asked.   “They’re my firsts!†the little man yelled.   “Well, then, why are you here?†  “C’mon! Take a swing, you dandy!†  “We haven’t even declared the time and day!†  “It is now! Let’s go!†  “Is it now?†  Ackworth turned and walked away.   “Oh!†the little man called after him. “Leave a hole in the road! Oh!†  “I was going to fill it, but not now!†Ackworth called back.   They yelled insults at the man as he left. He heard others complaining as he and Dr. Leighlin left the scene.   * * *   Jeagar, Flint, and Theo finally found Fowler on Cannon Street. He told them what he was doing. They saw the Negroes talking to other people and, after following them for a little while, Fowler approached one of those people they questioned after they had moved on.   “Out of curiosity, what were they asking you about?†he asked.   “I’m sure I don’t know,†the hapless servant answered. “They want to know what’s happening in Port Royal.†  “Did they say anything about the symbols?†  “Well, they were asking about them. They seemed quite concerned.†  “Quite concerned with …?†  “With the symbols.†  “In what way?†  “They were worried.†  “They were worried about the symbols.†  “That’s how it seemed to me.†  He learned the two were asking about the symbols and about the strange occurrences in Port Royal. He returned to the others and told them what he learned and the three continued to follow them at a distance. They told him about what they had learned as well.   Through the rest of the day, the two men questioned people around Port Royal, mostly restricting themselves to servants and slaves in the town. At the end of the day they went to a house where they had probably a rented room.   * * *   Dr. Leighlin saw the strange, pale, puffy-faced man several times during the day. At least once, the man was just staring at him from across the street before he moved on. Once he was sitting on the side of the street. Another time he was walking by.   * * *   Eventually, they all got together around dinnertime.   “Hello Flint,†Ackworth said. “Would you like to dig a hole tonight?†  “Why, Breakfast Man?†Flint said.   “Oh, just to dig it.†  “What’s in it?†  “Well … we don’t know yet. It’s a surprise.†  “My brother shall dig no holes unless there’s compensation, my good man,†Theo said.   “Well, of course there’ll be compensation!†Ackworth said.   “You’ll have to pay up firsthand!†Theo said.   “No!†Flint said. “Wait! I don’t want money. Give me breakfast and lunch tomorrow!†  “We’ve got a deal!†Ackworth said.   Theo just glared at the man.   * * *   Flint, Theo, Jeagar, and Ackworth returned to the spot late that evening, well after midnight. Ackworth pointed out the spot and they dug for two hours to uncover it again. They found a small, basalt pillar, perhaps a foot in diameter and six feet tall. The pit they ended up digging was about eight feet deep. The pillar did not appear to be attached to anything so they dragged it out of the ground.   They filled the hole back in and manhandled the pillar back to Ackworth’s house. Ackworth examined it closely and found it was roughly made but very solid.   Flint asked if he could sleep at Ackworth’s house that night and the man obliged him, giving him a guest room. Flint enjoyed the feather bed.   * * *

Max_Writer

Max_Writer

 

Lost Port Royal Part 4 - The City Across the Bay

* * *   On Tuesday, June 3, 1692, Theo woke up early to find his brother not in their bed, surprisingly. He thought sure someone was taking advantage of the mental deficient. He got up and went out in search of his brother. He decided to head down to the Catt and the Fiddle and thought to himself that his brother had better be there.   * * *   Both Fowler and Dr. Leighlin had terrible dreams that night, once again about the Yellow Sign, the King in Yellow, and a terrible city with tall towers and terrifying visages. Something seemed to pursue them through the city.   Dr. Leighlin also had nightmares about the man with the maggot-white colored skin he’d seen several times the day before. He continually woke in terror, screaming often when he did so. Gregory and Giovanni came into his room whenever he awoke with a cry but he drove them off. He did not have a good night’s sleep but he did eventually tell the two young men what he’d dreamt of and to beware of the man in black with the terribly pale skin as he had followed him. They brought him brandy to aid his sleep but it didn’t help either.   * * *   The streets of Port Royal were confusing that day. Though the town was very small and they were all familiar with every street and house, that day some of them had a terrible time finding their way to the tavern to meet the others for breakfast. Flint was very confused but Ackworth guided him to the tavern.   Dr. Leighlin was very confused by the streets. He got completely lost and was very disturbed by getting lost in a town he knew like the back of his hand. He finally managed to get to the Catt and the Fiddle but he realized something was terribly wrong. He was the last to arrive, and was shaken when he got there, looking around in confusion and touching the walls as if unsure if they were real.   “I got to sleep in my own bed,†Flint told Theo.   “Did any of you have trouble getting here?†Dr. Leighlin asked.   “Uh … I mean it was a little strange but … no,†Fowler said.   “No,†Jeagar said.   “Why would I have trouble?†Ackworth said.   “I never walked from his house so I was a little confused,†Flint said.   “I went straight across the road and I ended up beside the church,†Dr. Leighlin said. “There was no way.†  “Maybe it was God.†  “This is no time for that!†  “I heard he was real.†  “You’ve got to help me. I feel like I’m losing my mind.†  “It’s okay,†Fowler said. “We’ll get to the bottom of this … somehow.†  “You seem a lot different,†Flint said to the doctor. “You seem a lot stranger.†  “Well …†Dr. Leighlin said uncertainly.   “He speaks his mind,†Theo said. “That’s for sure.†  “Like he wasn’t strange already?†Fowler said.   Dr. Leighlin said nothing. He tried to eat something.   They discussed the markings and told the others what they had found in the hole: a six-foot high and one-foot diameter basalt pillar.   “In the street?†Dr. Leighlin asked.   “In the street,†Ackworth said. “Standing straight up.†  “Under the street,†Flint said.   “Under the street,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “And I had to pick it up,†Flint said.   “And we have reason to believe that there are eight more,†Ackworth said.   “Eight more,†Dr. Leighlin said. “Spread across the city.†  “I’m not doing that eight more times,†Flint said.   “Spread across the city,†Ackworth said.   “Why on Earth?†Dr. Leighlin said. “Let me see it.†  “Do you know some men who could help us dig?†Ackworth asked Jeagar. “Some good, trustworthy men?†  “Yes, I do,†Jeagar said.   Ackworth ordered Jeagar to get some men while he would go and get some digging supplies.   “How much should I tell them we’re going to pay them?†Jeagar asked.   “What do you think a fair wage is?†Ackworth said.   “A shilling.†  “And I’ll get shovels and a cart to carry them this time.†  “That sounds better for my back. My leg almost broke.†  “Maybe a few lanterns. Make sure these men are ready to tussle.†  Jeagar told him about the Negroes who were asking around the town about what was happening in Port Royal. He also told them where the two had been staying, according to Fowler.   * * *   Fowler and Dr. Leighton left, going to the courthouse to look into what had happened to Joseph Gill. They learned the arraignment was to be Wednesday and a trial was set for Thursday. The man he talked to guessed Gill would be fined or perhaps imprisoned for some time. There were rumors Gill had gone mad, however, so it was possible he would be imprisoned for his own good.   * * *   “‘And then there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground,’†they heard a man in a Spanish accent call out on the street.   Flint, Theo, and Jeagar had left the inn for their various errands when they heard the voice and looked down the street to see a man in a Catholic Priest’s robes preaching.   “‘And he said, Behold no, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways,’†the Spanish priest went on. “‘And they said Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.’†  As they approached, they saw he was a bald man with a mustache and goatee and dark skin like a Spaniard. Though none of them were particularly religious, they recognized the name “Lot†as part of the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.   “The Lord smote the cities for their wicked ways and shall smite this one as well,†the priest cried out. “He is coming here, here to Port Royal. Death and destruction are coming. You … you must make peace with God. You must confess in order to pass into Heaven rather than burn in Hell when the city shall soon be destroyed!†  Most people walked by, ignoring the man. A few spared him a glance but otherwise did not pay much attention to him. Others rolled their eyes as they walked by. He continued to preach about the destruction of the city.   “Isn’t that the Spaniard that paid Joseph Gill?†Flint asked.   “I believe it is,†Jeagar said.   “Shall we arrest him?†Flint said.   “You can’t arrest him, brother,†Theo said. “You’re not a constable.†  “Shall we follow him instead?†Jeagar said.   “Yeah,†Flint said. “I want to ask him why Port Royal will be destroyed. Should I talk to him?†  “That’s not a bad idea,†Jeagar said.   “Okay,†Flint said.   “I’m going to hide here in the shadows and follow him when he goes,†Jeagar said.   “Theo, do you have my back?†Flint said.   “Absolutely, dear brother,†Theo said.   Flint walked down the street and crossed to the priest, who continued to preach fire and brimstone, of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed for their sins, utterly annihilated, the entire valley decimated, and everyone dead. Lot had been warned to leave by God and told not to look back. His wife looked back at the destruction and was turned into a pillar of salt.   Flint knew the story. He knew Abraham had pleaded for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, asking God if he would spare the city if he could find 40 righteous men. God complied. Then Abraham asked he would not destroy the cities if he found 30 righteous men, and God agreed. He asked about 20 righteous men and God agreed. Finally he asked if God would spare the city if he could find 10 righteous men and God, once more, agreed.   The Spaniard preached that, as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sins so, too, would Port Royal be destroyed for its sins.   Flint sat on the ground and listened.   “How do we save it?†Flint asked.   “You can’t!†the priest said. “You cannot save it. You cannot save the city. You can only save yourself … by confessing your sins to a good Catholic priest. And then … then your soul, at least, will go to Heaven when you are destroyed with all of … all of this wickedness, this terrible wickedness.†  “Then let’s all leave!†  “There is no escape. The souls of the damned will still burn in hell.†  “How long do we have?†  “You do not have long. Saturday. The end comes Saturday.†  “What’s today?†  The priest went on with his preaching about the destruction of the cities. He finally finished it up and looked with contempt at the people passing him by on the street and ignoring him. Flint looked around and saw Theo talking to someone but constantly looking in his direction.   “Theo!†Flint yelled at his brother. “We got ‘til Saturday! Port Royal’s going to be destroyed on Saturday!†  “Who are you talking to?†the priest said.   “My brother.†  “Why?†  “‘Cause he’s my brother.†  “Why? Why do you speak to your brother? Will he confess? Will he confess his sins?†  “He doesn’t believe in God.†  “Do you believe in God?†  “A little.†  “You should believe in him with your heart and soul because if you do not confess your sins you will burn in the pits of Hell for all eternity!†  “I don’t want to do that.†  “Then you must confess your sins.†  “Okay.†  “Tell me. Say ‘Bless me father, for I have sinned.’†  “Bless me father, for I have sinned.†  “‘It has been … I have never had a confession.’†  “I have never had a confession.†  “Now, you must tell me your sins. What have you done that has angered God? What commandments have you broken? How many have you killed?†  “I killed a man.†  “You killed a man?†  “Yeah.†  “How many men have you killed?†  “Theo says it’s the big number.†  “The big number? A hundred men you have killed? A thousand men you have killed?†  “I don’t know how big that is but I don’t know how many … but I did kill one yesterday.†  “Do you regret your sins?†  “No, they were bad!†  “Killing is a sin, my child.†  “But I kill bad people.†  “It is still a sin. You will go to Hell if you do not confess and repent of your sins.†  Theo had made his way across the street and was moving up behind the priest.   “You must confess your sins and regret the terrible things you have done,†the priest said to Flint. “Killing is wrong. Have you stolen?†  “Yes,†Flint said, matter-of-factly.   “It is a sin.†  “I would die if I didn’t steal.†  “It is better to die a saint than live a sinner.†  Theo had made his way behind the Spaniard and poked a pistol into his back. The priest stood up straight and looked over his shoulder at the man.   “You would threaten a priest?†he said. “What kind of sinner are you?†  “Theo!†Flint said. “What are you doing?†  “He’s threatening a man of God, my child,†the priest said.   “Theo, I’m trying to confess my sins so I don’t burn in hell!†  “Who is this sinner?†  “That’s my brother behind you.†  “You should get down on my knees and confess your sins.†  Theo leaned forward.   “If you want to live, you’ll go into the street that is right adjacent to us,†he whispered.   “Oh,†the priest said. “You wish to rob me. You are a sinner too.†  He turned to Flint.   “Your brother is a sinner,†he said. “It makes me sad in my heart.†  “Am I saved yet?†Flint said.   “Not unless you stop your brother from robbing me.†  “I told him to stop!†  “You must take his pistol away.†  “What more can I do?†  “You must take his pistol away. Or God … God will cry upon you.†  “Mr. Jeagar! We need help!†  The priest moved towards the narrow street as he had been told, hands still down by his side.   “Stop yelling and just go get him,†Theo said to Flint.   “Well, maybe don’t hold someone at gunpoint in daylight,†Flint said.   “Well, maybe don’t argue! And go get him.†  “I was trying to save my soul!†  Jeagar headed across the street towards them.   “Mr. Jeagar, I was trying to confess my sins and then Theo pointed a gun at him,†Flint said, stopping Jeagar in the street.   “The preacher is probably a liar,†Jeagar told him. “He doesn’t even believe in God.†  “What? He lied to me?†  “More than likely.†  They looked around and realized they had lost sight of Theo and the priest.   “We’d better see what’s going on,†Jeagar said.   “Yeah, we’d better catch up,†Flint said.   They headed for the side street.   * * *   The priest had moved up the side street and then turned to Theo.   “Will you kill a man of God?†he asked the man.   He backed away from Theo.   “You cannot stop what is happening.†  Theo followed the man, picking up the pace.   “Don’t be a fool!†the priest said.   He turned and ran. Theo gave chase.   * * *   When Jeagar and Flint reached the side street, they saw the priest running away towards the other end, followed closely by Theo.   “Go protect your brother!†Jeagar said. “Quick! I’m too slow!†  Flint picked up Jeagar, who cursed.   “Put me down!†Jeagar said. “You just go! I’m going to go cut him off!†  He struggled against the larger man, who eventually put him down.   * * *   The priest ran for the corner ahead.   “Your destruction is assured!†he shouted over his shoulder   The man ducked to the left and when Theo ran around the corner, he saw it was a dead end but it should have been Lime Street. He turned to his right and saw an alley that he didn’t remember in this part of Port Royal. Then he saw the priest again. He gave chase.   * * *   Flint ran after his brother and saw him turn left onto Lime Street. When he ran around the corner, his brother was completely gone. There was no where he could have easily disappeared. Perhaps he ran into one of the shops on either side.   * * *   Theo managed to mostly keep up with the priest, who was sprinting. Though the streets didn’t seem to go where they were supposed to and he seemed to be in parts of the town that were not even connected, he kept up until he ran out of breath and had to stop. The priest continued to run.   * * *   Jeagar, who had been fighting against the confusing streets, finally came around a corner and saw the priest running in his direction. Theo was behind the man but then stopped and started breathing heavily, leaning against a wall.   Jeagar rushed the man, pulling his hatchet from his belt and striking the man in the leg, cutting him badly. The priest screamed and Jeagar ran right by him as fast as his peg leg allowed, heading towards Theo.   The priest stopped down the street, muttering something and pointing at Jeagar.   “Run away!†the priest said.   Jeagar felt an uncontrollable compulsion to flee and so ran down the street away from the man. The priest ducked around a corner and disappeared from sight.   Jeagar felt the compulsion leave him after only a few seconds, but the priest was gone by then.   * * *   Fowler and Dr. Leighlin exited the courthouse and saw a man outside who seemed to be in some distress.   “Sir, are you okay?†Fowler asked.   “Have you seen the Yellow Sign?†the man said.   He drew a knife and ran at Fowler. Fowler pulled his musket off his shoulder, cocked it, and shot the man in the right hand, blowing a substantial-sized hole in it and knocking the knife away. Blood sprayed and the man crashed to the ground. Dr. Leighlin backed away as people screamed and fled.   Fowler explained the man had attacked him in a mad fury and Dr. Leighlin attested to the facts. People grabbed the unconscious man and dragged him to the jail, blood still dripping from the terrible wound in his hand.   * * *   Ackworth spent the morning purchasing shovels and other paraphernalia for digging up the streets, including a few handcarts for use in transporting the strange pillars he was convinced were buried under the street. He also got some lanterns.   * * *   They all got together that night to dig up the things in the street. Jeagar had hired a dozen men to help pull the carts and dig. Ackworth provided 10 shovels and they got to work digging up the things from the street. Soldiers accosted them several times but Ackworth paid them a few shillings sent them happily on their way.   It was in the wee morning hours when a man approached with a lantern in his hand. He was a tall man with shoulder-length, stringy hair and a strange grin on his face. He wore a tri-cornered hat and had a large knife in his belt. His eyes were wide.   “Greetings,†he said. “Hello. I’m looking for a righteous man. Are any of you a righteous man?†  “What do you mean by a righteous man?†Fowler asked.   “Well, I must find 10 righteous men … to save Port Royal,†the man said.   “Define a righteous man,†Ackworth said.   “Yes,†Fowler said.   “Well, I must … if I find 10 … well, any of you could be righteous men,†the man said. “I-I take it you’re not going to just dig holes in the street. You’re going to refill it.†  “Well, of course,†Ackworth said. “That’s what we did last night.†  “I have some questions that I can ask,†the man said. “To see if any of you are righteous men. If I can find 10 … 10 righteous men, I can save Port Royal. I swear I can.†  “Go ahead,†Fowler said. “Ask me some questions.†  “Very well,†the man said. “Are you …†  “A righteous man?†Jeagar muttered.   “… a righteous man?†the man finished, either ignoring or not hearing him. “Have you ever killed a man or otherwise broken one of the Ten Commandments?†  “Uh …†Fowler said. “Well, I don’t know.†  “Then you are not a righteous man,†the stranger said. “A righteous man would know.†  “Well, no man without sin,†Ackworth said.   “Are you?†the man asked him. “Have you broken the Ten Commandments?†  “Well, I mean, no man is without sin,†Ackworth said.   “I do not need wordplay sir,†the stranger said. “I need a yes or a no.†  “I was born with it, though!†Ackworth said.   “You are not a righteous man,†the stranger said and turned to Jeagar. “What about you, sir?†  “Of course!†Jeagar said.   “You’re a righteous man?†  “Yes.†  “You’ve never killed another man? You’ve never stolen? You’ve never … never … never coveted thy neighbor’s wife? You’ve never committed adultery?†  The man went through the whole of the Ten Commandments.   “Yes,†Jeagar lied.   The stranger looked at his carefully.   “No no,†he said. “I’m sorry. You are a liar. That is a sin as well, my friend.†  The stranger turned to Flint.   “What about you?†he said. “Are you a righteous man?†  “I’d like to think so,†Flint said.   The stranger looked pained by that answer.   “Have you killed other men?†he said.   “Only the bad ones,†Flint said.   “That does not make a righteous man,†the stranger said sadly.   He turned to Dr. Leighlin.   “What of you, sir,†the stranger asked him.   “Are you a righteous man, sir?†Ackworth said.   The stranger turned back to him.   “It doesn’t matter what I am,†he said. “I am looking for righteous men.†  He turned back to Dr. Leighlin.   “But how do you know a righteous man─†Ackworth said.   “Quiet, you!†the stranger replied, turning back to him.   “─if you are not a righteous man, yourself?†Ackworth said.   “Do not speak again or I’ll strike you down on the spot!†the stranger said to him.   He turned back to Dr. Leighlin.   “Are you a righteous man, sir?†he asked, nearly in tears.   “Are you a righteous man, sir!?!†Ackworth yelled at the man, mocking him. “I’m looking for 10 righteous men!†  The stranger swung the lantern at his head and Ackworth leapt out of the way.   “Are you a righteous man!?!†Ackworth shrieked insanely. “I’m looking for 10 righteous men!†  The stranger drew his knife and tried to stab Ackworth, who ducked back.   “Do not interrupt me again!†he screamed.   Ackworth shouted back at him. Then Fowler took out his musket and shot the man in the shoulder. The man stumbled backwards and crashed to the street, his lantern falling to the ground and going out. The man lay there, bleeding.   “Dr. Leighlin, see to the man!†Ackworth said.   Flint drew out his blunderbuss.   “Why did you do that!?!†he cried out. “He was trying to save us!†  “And we’re going to save his life too,†Ackworth said.   “But we just shot him!†  “We didn’t kill him though. Hopefully.†  Dr. Leighlin tended to the fallen man.   “Theo, what do I do?†Flint said.   “Put your gun away, brother,†Theo said, drawing his own flintlock pistol. “You’re safe with me.†  Dr. Leighlin bound the terrible wound. The bullet gone directly through the man’s shoulder, punching a terrible hole in his scapula. He was bleeding profusely but Dr. Leighlin stanched the wound.   “I feel like we should question him,†Fowler said.   “I feel like we should tie him up,†Ackworth said.   “That would be good too,†Fowler said.   A few people investigated the strange occurrence, but a little money from Ackworth saw them on their way. Fowler wanted to question the man to find out who he worked for and what he wanted.   “I think he was just following the stories,†Flint said.   “What stories?†Fowler said.   “Sodom and Gomorrah,†Ackworth said.   “Yes,†Flint said. “If you find righteous men than you save the town.†  “Oh,†Fowler said. “I remember that from church. Save the town from what, exactly?†  “Destruction.†  “When is the town going to be destroyed?†  “Saturday.†  “And you’re only telling me this now?†  “Whoopsie.†  “Oh my gosh.†  “I forgot.†  They got back to work.   * * *   Before morning on Wednesday, June 4, 1692, they managed to remove all eight of the basalt pillars, had them loaded into the carts, and were heading back to Ackworth’s house on Thames Street along the North Docks, the sky ruddy in the east. A yellowish glow seemed to indicate the rising sun … until they realized it was not. Something else was to the east. Something unnatural.   Dr. Leighlin looked away. He felt his mind couldn’t take much more strangeness.   Across the harbor, standing on Pelican point, stood a strange city with a yellow glow behind it. It crouched dimly on by the shore, many spires and towers silhouetted by the rising sun in the strangely yellow sky. The towers appeared impossibly tall and thin. Something flitted between them.   Others on the docks stopped their work as they stared at the strange city. A few pointed.   Fowler recognized the terrible city from his nightmares. He reacted particularly poorly to the sight, rooted to the spot in terror. He felt a terrible horror of the color yellow and couldn’t look away from the glow behind the city.   Theo saw the priest he’d accosted the day before just down the street, staring at the city with a satisfied grin on his face. He looked around and saw Theo, his smile widening and he nodded at the man. Then he turned and walked away, quickly disappearing.   “Hey!†Theo said. “I just saw that priest!†  “Where did he go?†Sam muttered, still staring at the terrible city.   “He’s in the city.†  “Well … that narrows it down a lot …†  “Let’s go.†  “Wait … you want to go into the insane city?†  “I have nothing else to lose right now.†  They went to Ackworth’s house and unloaded the pillars inside.   They later heard the strange city had vanished a half hour after its appearance. A few people had tried to swim across the harbor to it but drowned in their attempts.   * * *   Fowler suggested they find the priest that day, figure out where he was, and force him to tell them what they needed to know to stop the madness afflicting the town. Dr. Leighlin took the unconscious madman back to his surgery, finding his way back to the house with only some issues. He hid in his house in hopes of avoiding the strangeness.   * * *   Flint took Theo aside.   “I think we should leave Port Royal,†he told his brother. “This place is terrible.†  “Where do you want to go, brother?†Theo said.   “Anywhere but here.†  “That’s a lot of options.†  “I think the preacher was right. I think this place is doomed to Hell. So, we should just leave.†  Theo thought about asking Lily if she wanted to come with them.   * * *   Dr. Leighlin heard a knock at his door. A few moments later, Gregory came into his room.   “Master!†the Italian youth said. “Master! Doctor Horton is here. He says he has discovered something amazing!†  “Yes, yes,†Dr. Leighlin said, getting up.   He went to his study. A few moments later, Dr. Horton peeked into the room.   Doctor Anthony Horton was an older man of about 40 who was also a surgeon in Port Royal. He was a rival Dr. Leighlin’s, though Dr. Leighlin was a better surgeon than Dr. Horton. Dr. Horton didn’t appreciate the new blood coming into Port Royal, especially when people in the town started to come to Dr. Leighlin instead of continuing to see Dr. Horton. Secretly though, Dr. Leighlin wished he was as a good as Dr. Horton. The man was tall and slim and wore bloodstained clothing.   “Dr. Leighlin,†he said.   “Yes Horton,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “May I come in?†  “Yes.†  The other surgeon entered the room, seating himself on one of the chairs.   “I’ve discovered a new way of reattaching dead limbs,†Dr. Horton said with a sneer.   “And why would I be interested?†Dr. Leighlin said.   “Because you can’t do it.†  “You think so?†  “Uh-huh.†  “What is it you plan?†  “Oh! Showing you up amongst the gentry and the aristocracy. Finally proving my worth.†  “I have no time for this.†  “Fair enough. Fair enough.†  “Go play with your toys.†  “I will!†  “I have all I need.†  “Humph!†  The man stood up and headed for the entry, stopping and turning back.   “Just know!†he said. “Just know, any sign of weakness is proof that I am your superior!†  Dr. Leighlin stood as Dr. Horton went to the front door.   “Bastard!†Dr. Leighlin said to him.   “Ha!†the man said, turning on the step. “I know who my parents─†  Dr. Leighlin slammed the door in the man’s face.   * * *   Fowler had decided to wander the now-strange streets of Port Royal to try to find the Spanish priest they had told him about. He noticed some strange statues that he had never seen in the city before. Most appeared to be broken and old, as if they have been there for many years, and depicted oddly shaped and sometimes strangely dressed people. Many were unfinished or partially damaged. They were all terribly large and he had no idea how they could have been placed in the city overnight. A few other people looked at the strange statues.   It was quite unsettling.   * * *   As all of them but Dr. Leighlin ate a very late breakfast at the Catt and the Fiddle, a Negro, obviously a slave, approached their table. Fowler recognized her as one of the two he had followed the day before.   “I need to talk to you,†she said in a Spanish accent.   “What do you want to talk about?†Fowler said.   “The Yellow Sign.†  “What is the Yellow Sign?†  “You’re not about to pull a knife on us, are you?†Ackworth said.   The woman looked at him bemusedly.   “Perhaps,†she said.   “Okay,†Ackworth said. “‘Perhaps’ is better than a ‘yes.’ Continue.†  “I was sent by my master to stop what is happening in Port Royal,†the woman said.   “How do we do that?†Fowler said.   “I need to talk to you somewhere more private,†the woman said.   “Let’s go somewhere private,†Fowler said.   “Which would be where?†the woman said.   “This gentleman, Breakfast Man’s, house,†Jeagar said.   “Breakfast Man’s house?†Ackworth said. “Where we’re storing all the basalt pillars? Sure.†  They went to Ackworth’s house and she seemed nervous but, once they were within and settled, spoke.   “My people and my master live in the wilds of Jamaica,†she said. “As we have done for two generations. We are the Maroon.†  They knew the Maroon were slaves who had escaped from the Spanish or the English years before and lived free in the wilds of Jamaica.   “There is a cult of a god name Hastur that is trying to take over Port Royal,†she said. “The Yellow Sign is both their means to do it and a way to spread the cult. It slowly drives men mad over the course of many nights or days. Whenever they sleep. The sigil is a physical force of madness and evil. The cult has worked against our own masters for a very long time and …†  “Yea!†a child cried out, running into the room.   He stopped when he saw all of the adults there, listening to the negro woman.   “Quiet Billy!†Ackworth shouted at the boy. “Get to your room!†  It was his nephew, who also lived in the house. The child fled the room.   “We seek the same as you: to stop it,†the Negro woman said. “We have had little success in finding out what causes it.†  “How do we do that?†Fowler said.   “We do not know. We know there is a madmen in the street seeking righteous men. There is a priest of some kind behind it. We think it is Dr. Heath, who is in charge of the church.†  “We have the madman,†Ackworth said.   “What?†the woman replied. “He would know more than we.†  “We also have these pillars,†Ackworth said, pulling the sacking from around one.   The woman took some time in counting the pillars. She was obviously not well-educated.   “It is said that nine pillars are required to summon Hastur,†she said. “But it is not the summertime that he can come. I do not know how we can help you but we will if we can.†  “If you wish to wait here, we can go get the madman,†Ackworth said. “Two of us.†  “I do not know what I could find out from him. If you can find out what you can from him … this priest. This Emmanuel Heath. We think he is behind this.†  “Wait,†Fowler said. “But he said he didn’t know anything … oh. He was lying. Because he said he didn’t know anything about it and he thought it was strange.†  “Well, there you have it,†Theo said.   “I do not know,†the woman said. “I just know that … if there is any way we can help you stop this … the city that appeared across the bay this morning is a place called Carcosa. It eats towns that are wicked or evil.†  “I can go talk to Heath to see if he knows anything,†Fowler said.   “Do you know where he is?†Ackworth said.   “I know where his house is,†Fowler said. “I know where the church is.†  “We think he is behind all this,†the woman said.   “Well, we’ll see if he is,†Fowler said.   “If you need our help, find us,†she said.   She told them where they were staying and took her leave of them.   “Who wants to go confront the priest with me?†Fowler said.   “I haven’t been doing so well with priests, lately, so I will go to the good doctor’s house,†Ackworth said.   * * *

Max_Writer

Max_Writer

 

Lost Port Royal Part 5 - Lost Carcosa

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“Your patient is still sleeping,†Gregory said to Dr. Leighlin when he finally got up that day.   “My patient?†Dr. Leighlin said.   “The man you brought in last night,†Gregory said. “He’s a-still sleeping.†  “All right,†Dr. Leighlin said.   He went down to examine his patient once again. While he was doing so, Gregory returned.   “There’s a Mr. Ackworth here to see you,†the young boy said.   “Yes,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “I will bring him to the a-study,†the boy said.   Dr. Leighlin went into the study to find Ackworth there. Ackworth noticed the man looked even more exhausted than he felt.   “May I offer you brandy?†Dr. Leighlin said.   “I’m fine,†Ackworth said. “Has our friend woken up?†  “No, he’s still unconscious,†Dr. Leighlin said. “I … I have thought about … I can try … to wake him.†  “Is he restrained?†  “No. I haven’t restrained him yet.†  “We should restrain him first.†  “I would suggest you stay out of the room.†  “Of course. But I will be close by.†  Dr. Leighlin went into his surgery, strapped the madman down, and then used smelling salts to awaken him.   “Uh,†the man said, looking around desperately. “Oh! Where is it? What day is this?†  “Sir, it’s all right,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “What day is this!?! What day is this!?!†  “Today is Wednesday. Please. Please calm down.†  “No! I’ve lost a day! It’s gone. I’ll never get it … I have to get out!†  “It’s all right, sir. What are you─?†  “My shoulder hurts. So badly.†  “Yes, you were shot.†  The madman moaned.   “I’m so sorry,†Dr. Leighlin said. “Let me get you something for that.†  He picked up the laudanum he kept in the room.   “No!†the man said. “No. No! I must find 10 righteous men or Port Royal is doomed. Doomed!†  “Well you can’t do it like that,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “I know! I can’t get up! I can’t get up!†the man said.   Dr. Leighlin forced the laudanum and water mixture upon the man who choked on it but it went down. The man cried out in despair.   “Wait!†the man suddenly said to him. “Are you a righteous man?†  “I … I don’t know,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “You don’t know? That’s not a … oh no … I’ll never … I must … you must let me go. I must find 10 righteous men. I must save Port Royal. I must save Port Royal.†  “That’s a familiar story, my friend.†  “As Abraham himself said, if there were 10 righteous men in Sodom, he would spare the city but … no one looked. No one looked. They didn’t look!†  “Did he tell you this?†  “No, but I read the story and I know the Bible and, if there are 10 righteous men in Port Royal, perhaps we can save it. Perhaps. Perhaps we can keep it from falling …†  “But this is neither Sodom nor Gomorrah. We can’t expect that.†  “But he thinks it is!†  “Who?†  “Father Diego thinks it is!†  “Father Diego is just insane.†  “No! No! Yes! Aren’t we all? He knows the secrets. He has cast the spells. He will bring Carcosa to Port Royal. And then …†  “Wait! Are you saying he’s behind this?†  “He was. But all has been set into motion. Unless I find righteous men … unless I find righteous men … unless someone goes into Carcosa and stops this … nothing will ever stop it. And then Port Royal is doomed! It’s doomed. If I can find 10 righteous men … then … he won’t destroy Port Royal. ‘It’s a wicked city,’ he said, ‘a wicked city.’ And a fool, I … I believed him. I followed him. He says that in the manner of Sodom and Gomorrah, Port Royal will be destroyed. He summons Carcosa. And Carcosa … Carcosa will eat Port Royal. I was a follower of his until some days ago. I realized the folly of my actions.†  Tears welled up in the man’s eyes.   “Much … much of my time with him is a blur,†he went on. “But … but I might be … but … he said there were basalt stones that would help with its summoning. He was … he tried to destroy the city … but the Yellow Sign … he was … the more violent and more repugnant Port Royal is, the more likely it will be consumed. He was … he … you have to let me go! I’ve got to find … 10 righteous men. But you don’t know if you’re a righteous man. Are you a righteous man? Have you sinned? Are you a sinner?†  “Calm yourself,†Dr. Leighlin said. “Calm yourself.†  The madman wailed in despair.   “I can’t get up!†he said. “I’m getting up! I have to get up!†  The man was not moving at all but, due to the laudanum, obviously thought he was breaking free of the restraints. Dr. Leighlin backed out of the room to where Ackworth loitered outside.   “Well, he’s awake now,†Dr. Leighlin said to the man. “What should we do.†  “Well …†Ackworth said.   “I’m not sure it’s safe to let him go. But he seems like he knows a lot more than any of us at this point.†  “I don’t think he’ll actually hurt anyone.†  “Well he certainly wouldn’t hurt … couldn’t hurt anyone right now.†  “Hm. So … we know we can’t let the preacher get the basalt pillars.†  “Yes. Is there any way we can destroy them?†  “Maybe?†  Dr. Leighlin knew he did not have enough chemicals to destroy the pillars.   “If we can’t destroy the pillars, we must destroy …†he said.   “The city!†Ackworth said.   “… Diego.†  “Oh! Yes. Of course. Diego.†  “We must destroy Father Diego.† 
* * *  
“Can I help you gentlemen?†Dr. Heath said when the others went to visit him.   He looked at Fowler and Jeagar.   “I believe I talked with you before?†he said.   “Yes,†Jeagar said. “Well, new things have come up. Have you seen what’s going on outside?†  “I’ve heard rumors about some mirage that appeared over the harbor,†Dr. Heath said. “Apparently the governor sent some men to talk to Mr. Swettmann, who has a house on Pelican Point. He didn’t see anything. I would say it was an illusion of some kind. It was only there for half an hour.†  “Then there was something …†Jeagar said.   “There were strange statues,†Fowler said. “I don’t know what they were. Do you know anything about that?†  “I’ve heard some rumors to that affect,†Dr. Heath said. “Those have always been there, haven’t they?†  “No, they haven’t!†  “I thought the Spanish built them or some rubbish. There are many rumors going around Port Royal right now, but many of them seem to be the blathering of a madman.†  “You seem pretty confident about that.†  “Well, with faith in God and science, the things that we cannot prove exist obviously don’t. It was obviously a mirage or an illusion of some kind.†  “What about this whole nonsense of Sodom and Gomorrah?†  “Are you talking about that priest that’s been going around preaching? He’s obviously a dissident. He’s Spanish. They are … inferiors.†  “Right. Of course they are.†  “But obviously he’s taking advantage of the situation, trying to stir up some money or get some kind of cult started of some kind in some way. Soldiers are looking for him. Of course, they’ll arrest him when they find him.†  While watching Dr. Heath’s face, Jeagar said “Hastur.†The man didn’t seem familiar with the term.   “Thank you for your time, sir,†Fowler said.   “Very good,†Dr. Heath said. “I always have time for my flock. I will see you Sunday.†  He would not see them Sunday, nor ever again, actually.  
* * *  
“What do you want us to do about the man?†Gregory asked Dr. Leighlin sometime later. “The man that you have strapped down?†  “See to him in whatever he needs,†Dr. Leighlin said.   “He will not be released!†  “Yes.†  “Yes.†  It was later on Wednesday night when Dr. Leighlin released the badly injured madman, who went in search of 10 righteous men.  
* * *  
Fowler asked Jeagar where Father Diego had been preaching. When Jeagar told him it had been on High Street, he went there. He was disappointed to see more statues on the road, some in place of the stocks that were usually there. He turned and walked away, avoiding them altogether.   He went home to get some sleep.  
* * *  
Ackworth, out and about to find the others and tell them not to kill the priest, also saw the strange statues. He didn’t think they had been there the day before and he had spent most of the night on the streets, so he knew they must have appeared within the last hour or so that morning.  
* * *  
Theo, Flint, and Jeagar wandered the town, looking for Father Diego. They noticed the strange statues that hadn’t been there the day before. Flint felt terribly ill upon seeing the strange statues and fled, going back to his room and going to bed.   The other two spent the day searching for the priest in vain.   Ackworth eventually found them and told them finding the priest would be good, but also advised they didn’t kill the man as the events were already set into motion and he had nothing to do with what was going on anymore. He thought they should keep him for questioning as he told them about the strange things the madman in Dr. Leighlin’s surgery had said.   “We have to kill someone in the spire city?†Jeagar said.   “Well, the madman said we had to find 10 righteous men and go into the spire city,†Ackworth said.   “Do we have to be righteous?†  “According to him. Once again, what is a righteous man?†  They decided to all go their own ways and get some sleep, planning on rising early the next day to go to the city.  
* * *  
They rose early on Thursday in the hopes of seeing and entering the strange city. Rumors were rife in Port Royal about things that flew out of the sky and snatched people off the street the night before. The horrible things either took their victims away or dropped them from a great height where they were smashed to the ground below.   Jeagar, Ackworth, Theo, and Dr. Leighlin went to the North Docks. They were not alone. Hundreds of people waited on the docks and, just before dawn, a great cry went up from many of them. Fowler had stayed at home and Flint was bedridden with a fever.   The strange city appeared on Pelican Point again, across the harbor. It was a amazing and terrible as it had been the day before. A few people screamed, others fainted or cried. A few jumped into the water. A small riot broke out on the docks but there were numerous soldiers stationed there and it was quickly dealt with.   Dr. Leighlin shrieked and then started babbling incoherently. The other three simply headed to a nearby rowboat Ackworth had rented.   “Why don’t you wait at the shore?†Ackworth said to the babbling man. “Good.†  Dr. Leighlin didn’t even look at the man though he realized they were going. He didn’t watch them go but just fell to his knees and then to his side in a fit.   Two pinnaces sent out with four squads of red-coated soldiers, all of them heavily armed, which headed for the city. It was not the only boat in the water as a few other citizens of Port Royal also set off in small boats. Jeagar, Ackworth, and Theo boarded their own boat though the pinnaces soon outraced the smaller craft in crossing the bay.   As they crossed the harbor, they noticed the smell of brine vanished. They crossed the wide bay and , as they got closer, saw impossibly high towers and strange domes. The odd construction was both beautiful and horrifically alien. It was unlike anything they had ever seen before. They saw the pinnaces beach and the red-coated soldiers disembark and head into the city.   It got darker as they approached the city as if night were falling. The closer they got, the darker it got until, by the time they beached their boat, it was somehow night. Another man who had rowed to the city looked up into the sky and the towers in awe and amazement before he took out his knife and stabbed himself repeatedly in the stomach and chest, eventually falling to the ground as blood spewed from him.   The stars were wrong. Strange constellations unlike any they had ever seen before filled the sky. It was especially jarring to Theo, who had studied the stars and knew how the night sky should look. The other two were also disturbed by it but not as much as Theo, who was rooted to the spot for a minute or so, just staring at the terrible wrong stars and constellations.   They entered the city. The buildings were strangely decorated and oddly smooth. At the same time, they seemed to be shabby and sometimes almost in ruins. The towers and buildings were built of various materials though the dark domes and monolithic towers were everywhere. Many of the structures were made of a black and pitted stone and towered over the streets that either felt too wide or two narrow.   Twin moons could be seen near the horizon and figures seemed to be flying high above. There were no sounds, not even the sounds of the others who had entered the place. It was dark, dreary, and apparently desolate and abandoned. The streets wound confusedly. Open doorways into darkness were common though sometimes a pale glow emerged. Tall towers and buildings loomed above them: grotesque, strange, and inhuman. They saw stairways that were too narrow, too shallow, or too steep for comfort.   The buildings and the rooms they sometimes peered into made their eyes water and their brains ache as the angles were strange and wrong. Sometimes there were dry canals without boats: deep, stone-lined and watermarked channels filled with naught but shadows.   Statues abounded in the horrible city. Some seemed familiar while others were completely alien or sometimes uncomfortably realistic. They recognized some from those they had seen in Port Royal the day before. There were fountains with clear, clean water scattered throughout the city. Dust and dirt were everywhere though, as if the city were long-deserted. Sometimes strange footprints could be seen in the dust and they left their own footprints behind as they walked.   They soon came across an obvious churchyard filled with dozens of open graves. They didn’t approach closer, fearful of what they might find on the headstones.   At another point, they saw movement in a tower door. It looked like a woman in a short, black dress. She fled up the steps in the tower. Jeagar headed into the tower alone as the other two waited below.   He heard footsteps echoing ahead of him, clacking like metal on stone. When he finally reached the top of the tower, only a strange black dress lay on the ground next to odd-looking high-heeled shoes. No one was on the tower top at all. He looked over the edge and, far down below, he saw Theo and Ackworth, the former waving up at him.   As Jeagar went back down the steps, he could swear he heard the someone walking ahead of him, the metal footsteps clacking down the steps. When he reached the bottom and exited, he found the others had not seen anyone enter or exit the building. Nothing had been there but the sound.   They continued to wander through the city, soon finding a great clock, the face lit by flames. It stood at 11:43 and it felt terribly important, though they could not say why.   They later found a strangely-shaped, domed building with a wide entrance that seemed to beckon them. Jeagar led them into the place and within, lights shined on the ceiling to form, on one side, recognizable constellations on half of the high roof above, and on the other side unrecognizable and strange constellations and stars. The floor was a model in tiny but perfect detail. One half was a painstaking model of Port Royal. The other a model of the high towers and strange domes of the city they stood in. A large lever stood near the door next to them.   Theo didn’t like it at all and turned, leaving the building.   Jeagar, unable to contain himself, tried to pull the lever just a little bit. As soon as he touched it, it pivoted down all the way. He tried to push the lever back as some kind of clockwork began to creak under the floor. It wouldn’t move. He turned to flee and then stopped and drew his pistol, aiming it at the model of the city of towers. Ackworth, watching the models carefully, pushed the man’s hand aside.   “I want to watch it,†he said.   The models on the floor moved towards each other and, in some impossible and inexplicable way, the cities moved into each other, Port Royal completely vanishing into the city, consumed and subsumed even as the stars shining from the ceiling above merged, the familiar constellations vanishing altogether to be replaced by the odd and unnerving stars over the towering city that remained.   The two men left the building, stunned.   They continued through the city and found a group of statues of naked men, all of them apparently in great pain or anguish, in a widened part of the street. They all reached upwards and their mouths were open in silent screams. They appeared to all be made of ivory. Ackworth was surprised they weren’t salt. Nearby, they found torn and shredded clothing: red military coats and red hats, and pants, all ripped to shreds. Muskets with bayonets, powder, and soldiers’ kits were also strewn around the square nearby. Theo took a rifle and ammunition, as did Jeagar.   Theo laughed hysterically at the sight not stopping for a minute or more.   They next found a building with a gallery in the front. Paintings hung on the walls portraying strange buildings and scantily-clad people. However, the flesh tones of the models were sallow and unhealthy with a sickly color. Their eyes were almost lifelike and seemed to follow them around the room. It was all very strange. As they looked around the odd room, a man entered from the darkness of an inner chamber.   “It must be the turpentine,†he said. “They always turn out like that.†  The man was very strangely dressed with a shirt buttoned up the front and a tall collar. He wore a high vest and a paint-stained jacket, over which was an artist’s smock. He had short, black hair, a thick mustache, and appeared to be in his 30s. He looked like nothing any of them had ever seen before. His accent was strange and unfamiliar.   “Hello,†the man said. “Are you new?†  “Yes,†Ackworth said.   “Jack Scott,†the man said, shaking his hand.   “Howdy, Jack Scott.†  “And you are?†  “I’m Dean Ackworth.†  “And you sir?†  Scott turned to Theo.   “Theo Dawson,†the sailing master said, shaking his hand.   “Yes … and you?†Scott said.   “Brün Jeagar,†the master gunner said, shaking his hand.   “Welcome to my gallery,†Scott said. “As you can see, I’m working constantly. It’s the turpentine. Perhaps it’s the canvas. I don’t know. They all turn out like this. Unfortunately. Ah, but I must keep trying. I must keep trying. It is a shame. I do, indeed, say ‘It is a shame.’†  “Where are we?†Ackworth asked.   “What?†Scott said. “You’re in Lost Carcosa. It is a terrible place. I don’t leave the studio or the gallery. I don’t like it out there. It’s always dark. They’re up there, flying around. It’s very … a very strange place. I’ve been too busy too. I’ve been painting constantly. Painting.†  “Are they the ones that turn people to ivory?†  “Uh … I don’t understand what you say sir. Turn people to ivory?†  “Ivory.†  “They’re not sculptors. I can tell you that. I’ve done some sculpting in my time. But the painting. The painting, of course is … I try. But nothing is right since I read it, you know. Nothing seems to come out the way it should. Poor Tessie. Poor Tessie. Who? And why … and who … I don’t have many visitors. Would you like to model for me. I do need models, you know. Who are you? You’re dressed …?†  “We’re from …†Jeagar said.   “Antique clothing,†Scott went on. “They are quite quaint.†  “We’re from Port Royal.†  “Port Royal. Port Royal. South Carolina?†  “In Jamaica. What is South Carolina?†  “Oh, it’s unimportant. Jamaica. Jamaica. I’ve never been to Jamaica. At all in my life. Mostly … mostly other places, you know. What are you doing in my gallery?†  “This city appeared out of nowhere across the bay.†  “From your Port Royal?†  “Yes.†  “That’s a town, I take it. Yes. And you came here, why?†  “Something about if we were to stop somebody here, it wouldn’t destroy our town.†  “Interesting. Carcosa is a strange place. Yes. Well, tell me your story. Tell me your story.†  They told him their story. He seemed to find their use of the year 1692 amusing.   “Oh my,†he said with a smile. Then he stopped smiling. “Oh … my. That’s disturbing. No matter. No matter. Go on.†  They told him everything. The man often questioned them or made interjections so telling him everything took upwards of an hour.   “I seem to understand something about this place,†he said after they had told all. “Though I do not know how or why. Perhaps reading ‘The King in Yellow’ so long ago. It was so long ago, wasn’t it?†  “There was something about him,†Jeagar said.   “The King in Yellow?†Ackworth said.   “It’s a play,†Scott said. “A play. You shouldn’t read it. I shouldn’t have read it. It … uh … was quite disturbing.†  He looked uncomfortable for a moment before going on.   “The … uh … from what I understand, the more wicked, corrupt, and mad … the more there is of the wickedness that Carcosa … Carcosa,†Scott said, gesturing around himself, “craves it. So to speak. The more likely it will take away that place for its own. Perhaps you should destroy all the things you can that bind Carcosa to your Port Royal for a start. Perhaps acting against your own darkest impulses might help as well. Or against your own nature, who you actually are, and, instead, be who you think you need to be. But that’s a guess, that’s just a mere guess, of course.   “But, if any of your would like to sit for me … I do need new models. Tessie’s gone … she’s long gone. The … watchman … came. If there’s … yes.†  “That clock,†Jeagar said. “That we saw. Does that mean anything?†  “I don’t know of any clocks,†Scott said. “In Carcosa.†  “11:43?†Ackworth said.   “It means nothing to me,†Scott said.   “I’d be happy to model for you,†Jeagar said.   “Come this way. Come this way.†  “But, if we could touch upon the items that were taken from Carcosa to there. Would that be basalt columns by chance?†  “I … don’t know. We talked about your basalt columns. Perhaps they’re connected? Perhaps that would help? I don’t know. You will sit for me?†  “Sure.†  “It will take an hour or so. I’m a painter. Jack Scott, Artist.†  He led Jeagar alone into the next room, the other two staying in the gallery. After an hour, Jeagar and Scott returned. The painting was quite good, though obviously hastily done, and looked jaundiced and yellowed like the rest.   “It must be the turpentine!†Scott said, terribly disappointed. “I’m so disappointed. Everything turns out like that.†  “You don’t want to keep that one,†Jeagar said.   “We keep them all,†Scott said.   The three of them left of the gallery and eventually found their way back to their boat on the beach of what appeared to be a lake. In fact, they couldn’t see Port Royal at all, but a palace across the water. When they rowed towards it, it vanished and Port Royal slowly appeared, as did sunshine and the smell of the sea. Rain was coming down by the time they reached the familiar docks.   It was late morning in Port Royal when the city across the bay disappeared once more. Only their boat had returned from all those went to it.  
* * *  
Fowler was done with the madness that day. Careful to look at nothing but the ground and trying his best to ignore everything in Port Royal, he went to the North Docks and talked to several ship captains about leaving Port Royal. He wasn’t the only one with the idea and soon learned the few captains who were ready to leave were asking in excess of 40 pounds for a berth on their ships. That would cost all of his own life savings and his parents’ life savings as well. One captain wanted 50 pounds.   “Fifty pounds for one person!?!†Fowler said.   “That’s right,†the man he talked to said. “Fifty pounds. Look at this line I’ve got! These people are all willing to pay.†  Fowler found he could not get much better of a deal for a single person. He tried to make a deal for working his passage across but the few ships that were abandoning Port Royal had captains who merely wanted money.   He spent the rest of the day trying to get passage for a price he could afford.   Towards the evening, he thought of leaving the town by the isthmus that connect Port Royal to Jamaica. He went home, packed what few valuables he had, and left the city by land. As he crossed the rugged terrain, horrible things flew down out of the sky at him. The things flapped rhythmically: hybrid winged things. They were not crows nor moles nor buzzards nor ants nor decomposed men but some strange and horrific combination of all.   The terrible things tried to grab Fowler but he managed flee from them. As he ran away from Port Royal, they tried to snatch him up off the ground, tearing at his clothes and gear until he finally turned back in despair and frustration.  
* * *  
It was pouring rain again on Friday, June 6, 1692. Ackworth, Jeagar, and Theo had moved the small basalt pillars to a rowboat along with half a dozen paid men and a small cart and paddled towards Carcosa.   The HMS Swann, a 10-gun fire ship, got underway almost as soon as the terrible city across the bay appeared. The ship ran out her guns as she approached the city, turning and giving the towers a broadside to the cheers and wails of those watching from the North Docks. The cannon fire seemed to do damage to some of the high towers but, as the Swann turned to make another run, several dozen things flew up from Carcosa and descended upon the ship. A vigorous and terrible melee ensued with gunfire, shouts, and screams. A fire broke out on board as the Swann passed up the coast and out of the harbor, finally limping back to Port Royal, sails in tatters and blood along her deck.   The three paddled to Carcosa and ordered their men to remove the pillars from the rowboat, transporting them into the city. Ackworth wanted to find the building with the models in it once again to try to figure out where the streets of Carcosa lined up with where they had found the pillars in Port Royal.   They entered Carcosa but soon realized the streets were all different from the ones they had traversed the day before. It was as if the streets themselves had changed in the course of a night somehow. They searched for some hours but could not find the gallery or the strange room with the models. They continued wandering the city, pulling the heavy cart filled with pillars.   “We stay here,†Jeagar suggested. “And then, tomorrow, when the other town is eaten, we just leave this town.†  As they wandered the city, one by one the men they had brought wandered away or abandoned them. One man, who seemed to be losing his mind, lagged behind at one point. Several dozen scarecrows flocked up to him and then vanished along with him.  
* * *  
Fowler took his life savings and the life savings of his parents and got passage on a ship for himself alone. He paid the captain and found a place on deck, which was filled with people. The ship left the dock but had not traveled far when Fowler saw more of the terrible things come down out of the sky. He fled below decks and heard the shrieks and screams of people above, as well as gunfire and even some cannon fire. Blood dripped down through the hatchways and the ship eventually stopped moving. Men came below decks, most of them injured or with wide-open eyes. The captain, his left arm in shreds, forced Fowler to get out of the hold, flinging a few coins at him. He went up and was disappointed to find himself back at the docks of Port Royal. The deck of the ship was awash with blood and bodies were being heaved overboard. Only a people disembarked. Some of the crew, armed with pistols, clubs and knives, headed below decks where Fowler had last seen the ship’s captain. He soon heard screams below.   He looked across the bay. The city was still there. He stole a rowboat and rowed across to the city, going into Carcosa. He found the other three as he wandered the city, lost and terrified.   “What the heck!?!†he said to them. “I can’t get out of here! This is insane! I should’ve left a long time ago!†  Jeagar told them his idea to spend the night in the city.   It was a terrible night. It seemed like it lasted months. At one point, Fowler started laughing and laughing and laughing and then just sank into the ground and vanished.   That night did, indeed last forever for them. They were never seen again.  
* * *  
Saturday, June 7, 1692, was sunny and, unlike the last three days, no strange city appeared on Pelican Point across the harbor. The strangeness of the past week all seemed like more of dream though many people still crept around Royal, looking over their shoulders or with eyes blank with madness.   Dr. Leighlin was having a late breakfast on the balcony overlooking the North Docks. He was feeling quite calm. He had punched Giovanni in the face until he had stopped moving the night before and was amazed at how many blows it took to knock the youth unconscious. The Italian youth was up and about that morning, though obviously in a great deal of pain.   It was nearly quarter until 12 when the skies suddenly an inexplicably darkened to be filled with unknown constellations and the horrible city appeared on Pelican Point in all its glory. A palace appeared in the midst of Port Royal. The ground began to tremble and then rolled like waves on the ocean. Though there had been tremors before that did nothing, this time the shaking was much worse and went on for much longer.   The tower and church of St. Paul’s fell into the sea, collapsing like many other buildings. The northern and western sections of town, including the North Docks, also fell into the sea. Forts James and Charles sank into the water, taking many men with them. Fort Rupert, Fort Carlisle, and Fort Walker likewise disappeared with a terrible noise.   The sand under Port Royal liquefied and flowed out into the harbor. People were sucked down into the now-flooded and liquefied sand and, like some kind of terrible sludge-like quicksand, vanishing beneath the surface, never to be seen again, literally sucked into the earth. Entire buildings slid into the water and some sank straight down into the sludge. Many more collapsed. The older buildings fared better as they are wooden and low, compared to the tall, brick English houses.   Even as the residents were reeling from this catastrophe, a tidal wave crashed into the town from the south, putting half of the town under 40 feet of water. People partially buried by the earthquake were drowned. The HMS Swann was carried from the harbor and deposited on top of a building on the island.   By the end, only a few minutes later, nearly every building in the city was uninhabitable. Most of the corpses from the graveyards floated into the harbor among the victims of the disaster. Even the Palisadoes Spit, which connected the town to the rest of Jamaica, was smashed and collapsed, putting the town on a true island once again. Only Fort Charles and it’s tower still stood.   Then Carcosa and the palace vanished, along with hundreds of people, who looked towards the high city and simply ceased to exist.  
* * *  
Dr. Leighlin survived the terrible disaster. His entire house had slid down into the sea upright, leaving him on his third floor balcony, now at sea level, somehow intact and finishing his breakfast. His house did not survive the tidal wave that washed over from the south but he managed to cling to a large piece of timber, probably a broken ship’s mast, until he was rescued.   He found his assistant Gregory alive some short time after that.   “My boy!†he said when he found the youth. “My sweet child! I thought you had perished!†  When he asked about Giovanni, his other assistant and Gregory’s brother, the Italian youth told him the sad tale.   “Yes, master!†he said. “My dear brother, Giovanni, pushed me upwards and saved my life. I’m so happy to see you, master. He was sucked down by the sand though, master.†  “Oh, my dear boy!†Dr. Leighlin said. “Such a tragedy. I shall take care of you here. I am your family.†  He thought about trying to find Giovanni’s body but there were simply so many corpses floating in the bay and the sea around Port Royal, he figured the effort would be fruitless.  
* * *  
Flint had been looking for his brother Theo that morning when the earthquake hit but managed to get to safety somehow. In the terrible aftermath, he found Dr. Leighlin and his remaining assistant, Gregory.   “Such a curious specimen,†Dr. Leighlin said when Flint found him and asked about Theo. “If I’d had the chance to … pick his brain … I would’ve. Sadly, he has not visited me.†  “Are you in need of care?†Flint said.   “Dear boy?†Dr. Leighlin said. “Personal Care? Are you asking to become one of my specimens? I know of Theo’s whereabouts …†  “I take care of you!†Flint said.   Dr. Leighlin smiled.   Dr. Leighlin and his two assistants, Gregory and Flint, stayed on in Jamaica for some time, moving to tent town in Kingston for a while. There was a great need of doctors and many people who survived the earthquake sickened and died after, either of injuries or of diseases that seemed rife in the camp. Some died while under Dr. Leighlin’s tender care. He saw that their bodies were put to good use.   They stayed on until Dr. Leighlin got bored of the life there and moved on.  
* * *  
Some 3,000 people were reported killed in Port Royal that terrible day in June, though some claimed many had just vanished. Another 2,000 died of disease and from their wounds over the following month.   Dr. Leighlin’s rival Dr. Anthony Horton was killed in the earthquake, as was Peter Litton, the barkeep at the Catt and Fiddle. Theo’s woman, Lily Campbell, reportedly screamed and vanished as she sat in front of the mirror at her vanity that terrible morning, just before her house sank into the sea. Both Sam Fowler’s friend Timothy Dalton and Brün Jeagar’s expensive harlot Alice survived the earthquake but died some weeks later, Dalton of disease and Alice of her infected wounds.   Flint’s 6-year-old friend, William, survived though the rest of his family was wiped out. His vision continued to worsen quickly and he was completely blind by the time he was 20.

Max_Writer

Max_Writer

 

Episode 2 of The Space Between

Part 2   Form and Void   As the group stood around the SUV an unusual car pulled into the lot. The vehicle had clearly been a Herse once but some stylish modifications had given it a second life. Maria recognized it. The car pulled up and out stepped Esther Smith, Maria’s personal hairstylist. Maria had not turned up for work since filming had halted and was returning to her apartment in the building. Before the group could act she had strode over to see what was going on. After a short and probably very troubling conversation with Esther she agreed to assist.
The Investigators prepared to return to Jarred Woodward’s apartment.   From a bag in the trunk of his SUV Ramirez pulled a surprising amount of weaponry. Throwing a shotgun to George the party entered the elevator.
Maria suggested that perhaps the impenetrable darkness was somehow created by some sort of electrical field so the group attempted to shut off the lights. By torchlight they headed to the suite door and found the impenetrable darkness still complete. With little else to go on they stepped across the threshold.

The group came to their senses atop a large cliff in the dark of night. A natural auditorium made of smooth glassy rock surrounded them on all other sides. Far below waves smashed against jagged rocks. A short distance ahead two forms were visible. Jarred Woodward knelt, head bowed in front of a woman in a long black sequined dress. He appeared to be sobbing. Drawing his Desert Eagle, Ramirez announced himself. Woodward turned, wild eyed to the group, rose and began running madly at them. Behind him the woman began a slow advance. The group turned to one another, unsure what to do.   ‘Run!’ yelled Woodward as he closed in on them. Ramirez fired on the woman but the bullet went wide. Woodward closed in and grabbed Maria and Esther and began to drag them to the cliff face but a sharp palm to the face soon stopped him. ‘We have to get away from her!’ he yelled and threw himself over the edge. As the woman slowly drew closer the party decided to join him….   And came to on the floor of the editing suite.   A large editing desk and screen stood against one wall, a shot of the familiar basalt cliffs where stood The Woman in Black facing Verity frozen on it. An editing table with a canister of film and some clipped frames against another. A small bowl of what was almost definitely blood sat beside it.
Woodward lay in the middle of the floor blubbering. When challenged he scurried over to a corner and began rocking backward and forward.
As Ramirez approached the screen The Woman in Black turned towards him. A loud shot echoed around the room as the screen exploded from a close-range Magnum round.
He’d clearly got sick of this.
Turning to the table Ramirez scooped the contents into his bag to the protests of Maria who wanted to examine the film further. This caused friction. After a brief argument about the film and whether to turn it over to the authorities Maria withdrew from the confrontation. Ramirez found her a couple of minutes later attempting to call 911. He relieved her of her phone.
Dragging Woodward to his feet, the group left the penthouse.   When the five got back to the car the door was open and Verity Harrow was nowhere to be seen.
Woodward was pushed into the trunk of the SUV and the group began to pile in. Maria, however, refused. She distrusted Ramirez. After a short debate Esther and Maria decided to take the Herse.   The Celebrity Retreat seemed like the next stop and Woodward could get them in. Christopher Ramirez and George Williams pulled the car up in a vacant lot. They dumped the film in a barrel and set the evil thing on fire. They then turned to Woodward and politely explained to him why he was going to help. The trio continued to the retreat and caught up with Maria and Esther.   In the foyer of the retreat the group met Mandy Solek, the bubbly receptionist. Mandy arranged for security to come and get Jared Woodward but refused to let the group into the building. As they were about to leave, however, Mandy received a call. It seemed Craig Steel had heard of their arrival and wanted to see them. A little worriedly the group, accompanied by security, were led to Steel’s office.   Craig Steel sat behind his desk in a very opulent office. He seemed genuinely happy to see the group but concerned about their wellbeing, offering an emptying session. The four, of course, politely declined but Steel became more and more insistent.
Then he told the guards to take them by force.   One attempted to grab Ramirez but he ducked aside. The second went for Williams, striking him in the face. As Ramirez and Williams were engaged in combat Maria and Esther had other plans. They approached Steel, agreeing to go with him. Steel seemed puzzled by this but eventually began to lead them from the room and down a connecting corridor.
Back in Steel’s office one of the guards had tazed Ramirez while Williams beat the other with a chair.
Esther made her move. From her coat, she pulled her favorite scissors and put the point to Steels neck. A fight broke out but Steel was able to push Esther away. Esther fled into the building.   Maria had other plans. She agreed to accompany Steel and together they made their way across the building. Steel opened a door near the emptying suite and led Maria inside.
Esther circled back and made her way back into Steel’s office to find the two men still in combat with the guards. She quickly searched the room for something to assist her. In Steel’s desk Esther found the final reel of film and quickly destroyed it. A large cupboard was next to be searched. Throwing open the door Esther (and the combatants) were shocked to find a man standing there. When the initial shock wore off it could be seen this was not a living person but a mannequin on which hung a human’s skin. Despite the wear it appeared to be the Church’s founder, Ralph L Chandler.   Wilson and Ramirez had finished off the guards and set off after Maria while Esther continued her search. A cardboard box marked the Exegesis of Ralph L Chandler and another Tome titled The Sussex Manuscript took her interest and she scooped them up to return them to her car.   The two men continued down the hall to find more security coming for them. One of the guard’s head exploded from Ramirez’s large caliber weapon while Wilson took down the other but beyond them was a high security door.  
Beyond the door Maria screamed as she was tied down and skinned alive…       Desperately Ramirez turned to search for something that could be used to set the place alight but didn’t get far before Steel emerged from the room. Ramirez blasted Steel in the chest.   Craig Steel’s chest split open. From within, blackness spread into the world. Tentacles of night whipped at the two men. As the void spread the two fled from the retreat.   Epilogue – The hours following   The Survivors were apprehended by the police and taken into custody shortly after their escape from the Celebrity Retreat. During the hours they were held an FBI raid was undertaken on several Church buildings, including the Retreat. Few Church members put up resistance and the raid was completed cleanly.
While exact information on what was recovered remains classified FBI spokesmen have referred to it as ‘of troubling and occult nature.’ In the coming weeks, many high-ranking church members would be arrested and the church would eventually close. Brian Musgrove, the head of the Church, has not been found.   George Williams, Esther Smith and Christopher Ramirez were released without charge after intervention from higher government authorities.   Maria del Ponchard, would be seen a few more times, always wearing dark glasses before disappearing completely.   Esther Smith retains The Exegesis of Ralph L Carter.

Onemeantoaster

Onemeantoaster

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Tomb

Pushing ahead with one more story review before the end of this month it's nice to get to a longer piece again. I like short stories, but often they are just too short for me, too slight, or too thin an idea padded out. This one looks like a good length, though whether it uses that length well I'll find out shortly as I read.   Again first person narration, so typical of Lovecraft. I like the way the narrator raises the issue of a questionable narrator right at the very start. That seems very meta.   And again the narrator seems very reminiscent of Lovecraft himself, in his account of his lonely childhood, spent in dusty old books and the like.   I'm not making many notes as I read most of the story. It's quite gripping, though little happens for a long time. I'm not surprised at the narrator having a genealogical link with the family in the tomb, though how direct this is remains to be seen.   In some ways this feels like a precursor to the story of Charles Dexter Ward, with the combination of genealogical connections uncovered, and a young protaganist adopting an archaic way of speaking.   I do like the vision of the mansion and its guests brought back to life though. It's very evocative.   And again I make few notes, right up to the end. I really enjoyed that. It's well written, nicely developed, not too predictable, and a good ending. Great stuff.

yockenthwaite

yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Tree

Pushing on in the hope of a better experience I reach "The Tree", which seems to be set in Greece, long ago.   The opening descriptive passage is evocative, but also rather clumsily written for me. I find it a hard read in places, and the text doesn't flow as it should do. But things improve after then for me, as the story moves on to recount the story of sculptors Musides and Kalos. Though I am finding them a little hard to visualise, and distinguish between. I wish Lovecraft had described them physically, maybe one dark haired, one fair. As it is the only obvious distinction between them early on to the reader is their differing choices of places to go to.   Could the statue really take so long to sculpt though i.e. the time before Kalos's death and a further three years afterwards? I know the proposed statue is described as "of great size", and the sculptor is carving it without the help of his slaves. But it still seems somewhat incredible.   Thank goodness for my iPad Kindle app's built in lookup facility for "proxenoi". Though to be fair this term would be more familiar, probably, to readers a century ago, when classical education was more widespread.   I'm not entirely sure what happened at the end. Was Musides captured by the tree, or does it represent Kalos, or both of them? But I still think it's a rather nice story. Very different from Lovecraft's usual settings.

yockenthwaite

yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Terrible Old Man

From the beginning this story feels reminiscent of "The Street", and not in a good way. Although the three criminals are referred to as "Messrs" and "gentlemen", which is somewhat respectful, their names clearly suggest immigrant families, even before this is made clear later, and the association with them of crime is uncomfortable to this modern reader. I'm also guessing I'm supposed to side with the "Terrible Old Man", but I'm not exactly feeling that sentiment at the moment.   I do like that it's set in Kingsport though - an area I'd like to read more about, and don't feel is nearly as well developed in Lovecraft's fiction as other locations such as Arkham and, of course, Providence. Though even this setting is scant here. I'm also intrigued by the seemingly sentient lead bottles and pendulums inside them. But the writing seems to be often laboured, and repetitive, and I'm thinking this story could be told in a much shorter version, even though it's already very short. Or not told at all.   The ending is predictable, and I found it disappointing. After a repetitive and padded build it didn't deliver the goods for me, and the story just died away. I do not recommend this story, on almost any grounds.

yockenthwaite

yockenthwaite

 

The Madness is Illusory

"But it would be dangerous to search too earnestly for the allegorical in Titus Groan. It remains essentially a work of the closed imagination, in which a world parallel to our own is presented in almost paranoiac denseness of detail. But the madness is illusory, and control never falters. It is, if you like, a rich wine of fancy chilled by the intellect to just the right temperature. There is no really close relative to it in all our prose literature. It is uniquely brilliant, and we are right to call it a modern classic."   - Anthony Burgess on Titus Groan (1946) by Mervyn Peake

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Shadows of YogSothoth chapter one COMPLETE

After about 9 hours of play chapter on of the Shadows campaign is finished. No one died, but two of the three investigators are in the single digits of luck. Luck spending took all the punch out of the climactic villain. I am considering disallowing luck roles for combat. Then again, if not for the luck these characters would not survive to see chapter two!   the following blog is about to contain spoilers. It is all SPOILERS!!   Myron, Melborne, and Jackson have had some encounters with the mythos together. (Crimson Letters) This led them to making some friends and joining the Hermetic Order of the Silver Twilight. They enjoyed the cuisine, camaraderie and illegal booze offered by the club.   After some time they began to notice that there was something odd about the place, and the Head Philosopher John Scott.   As they looked deeper into the mystery of the club they ascended the ranks of membership achieving the level of Master. Eventually they were curious enough to gain access to the secret levels of the Hermetic Order, going as far as becoming Keepers of the Silver Gate.   after swearing an oath to Yog Sothoth the three realized they may have sullied their souls, as Prof. Armitage's guard dog at the Orn Library growled ferociously at them when they attempted to conduct a bit of research in the restricted section.   Eventually the three decided to explore the club after hours, finding a secret door in the basement floor which led them deep into the earth. Here they discovered ancient stonework wrought by a civilization that predated anything they had knowledge of.   They found cells and pits that contained unspeakable subhuman abominations.   They discovered an interesting Bas Relief depicting a squid headed monstrosity. They found star charts, books on science and astronomy. Then they rolled 02 on a spot hidden roll which revealed to them a secret compartment in a bookcase that contained the Necronomicon.   After finding this Greek translation of the fabled book they retreated to their own fortified underground bunker beneath Jackson's Auto Garage. It was here that the three (Jackson, Melborne, and Myron) poured over the unholy text, and made an Elder sign upon the door hoping to keep any evil from assailing them.   The following afternoon the three were interrupted from the study of the book by the odd phenomenon of a massacre of crows that had taken roost outside of the auto garage. Jackson was nearly pecked to death as he attempted to leave the area. They were being held prisoner within the garage.   Later John Scott arrived to ask for his book back. (necronomicon) They surrendered him the book. Melborne stayed hidden in the basement as Jackson and Myron were led away from the Auto Garage, forced into John Scotts automobile, and were driven to the Lodge of the Hermetic order.   Melborne followed them at a safe distance. He followed them into the basement, and down into the caverns below the earth.
Melborne was crafty and sneaky. He was never noticed as John Scott and his weird servant goons locked Myron and Jackson into a subterranean cell.   After John Scott left, Melborne released his friends and they discovered the jars and vials filled with the essential salts of deceased people. They deciphered the writing upon the wall and experimented with raising the dead from the salts via the spell written on the wall. They also discovered how to send the resurrected back to salt by reciting the word in reverse.   They were alerted to the return of John Scott by the howls of protest proclaimed from the lips of Melborne's girlfriend Lucy Stone. Apparently John Scott had left to apprehend the third member of the investigator trio, and settled on his girlfriend when he was unable to find Melborne at home.   There was a fight. Luck spends made John Scott's lethal magic punchless. Multiple handgun and sub-machine gun rounds were pumped into the warlock, but he seemed unaffected, despite the fountains of blood that sprayed fourth from his multiple wounds. Eventually, through hand to hand combat, and a lucky shot that blew out John Scott's knee he was subdued, and then fed the barrel of a fully loaded colt 1911. This handgun was then unloaded into John Scott's mouth leaving nothing but a bloody stump of a neck with a lower jaw bone attached.   Lucy Stone was rescued, as was an acquaintance of their's James Clark, from a cell below.   The bodies of John Scott and his goons were hauled to the pentagram in a torture chamber in the deepest level of the caverns, and the spell was reversed sending them back to essential salts.   Melborne and Jackson went to the hospital where they left James Clark. Jackson also stayed behind as he was horribly wounded from the fight with John Scott. Myron went upstairs into the club and had a drink. He had a fleeting conversation with Abner Wick, the owner of the antique store down the street. Wick said things that made Myron feel very uneasy, and he excused himself and went home to sleep.   Lucy Stone told Melborne she had had enough of Arkham MA. She had been given a supporting role in a large budget film that was to start filming next month in California. She said she was going, and wanted Melborne to move west with her. Melborne said he would consider it.   The next day the three grabbed early editions of the Arkham Gazette excited to see photo's from the crows that had descended upon Jackson's Auto Garage. The front page told a different story however... In the early hours of the morning, several children at the Arkham Orphanage had died mysteriously in the night from several fatal gunshot wounds.   With the exception of Jackson, the investigators realized that the children had been enchanted by John Scott to soak up any physical harm that might befall him, and the deaths of those children were caused by the bullets they had fired deep below the city of Arkham in ancient and forgotten caverns of misery and woe.   Whatever sanity they gained from completing chapter one was lost when they learned of this horrible development.   with the exception of Jackson Wilder of course, who only skimmed the story while happily munching his toast from his bed in the recovery wing of whatever hospital he was in. The story about the crows in section B got all his attention that morning.

Judgetrev

Judgetrev

 

Supped Full with Horrors Part 1 - The Missing Stagehand

Sunday, July 8, 2017   (After playing the original Call of Cthulhu Elizabethan scenario “Supped Full with Horrors†Sunday, June 25 from 1 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. with Helen Koeval, Ambralyn Tucker, Kyle Matheson, Ashton LeBlanc, and Collin Townsend.)   In the year 1613 in the month of June, strange things happened at the Globe Theater in London.   It had been 10 years since the attempt on Shakespeare’s life and the terrible occurrences under the Tower of London. Shakespeare, who never fully recovered from an attempt on his life in 1603, retired to Stratford on Avon in 1611, though he still occasionally wrote plays. John Fletcher had most recently been collaborating with the man and his newest play called All Is True, a historical play about Henry VIII. It had proved very popular and well-received.   Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 and was succeeded by her cousin James VI of Scotland who became James I, the first Stuart king. His politics had hurt England as much as helped it. In 1605, the “Gunpowder Plot†was foiled and Guy Fawkes, who intended to blow up the House of Lords while James I was present, was found and arrested. He and his conspirators were executed the next year.   Though the Holy Roman Empire controlled much of Europe, England had begun to explore the world and take to the sea. English Colonists went to Virginia and the first English Colony in America was founded in Jamestown in 1607. Spain no longer had a monopoly on the Americas.   The black plague ravaged London in 1609. Many people died and many fled the city until the disease had run its course. In 1611, James I dismissed the English Parliament when it refused to support his financial needs. The King and the Lords are at odds all the time.   Despite it all, the Globe Theater was still successful. Plays were still shown six out of seven days a week with the theater being closed Thursday due to law passed in 1591 closing them so the bull and bear baiting industries would not be neglected.   * * *   On Thursday, June 24, 1613, as the actors, stage hands, and musicians rehearsed for the next day’s play, a woman barged into the Globe Theater in a huff. She was young and pretty with blonde hair, and she wore the clothing of a washer-woman. She demanded answers to her questions.   “Where is he?†she cried out. “Where’s my Clancy!?! Do you know where he is? Where is he?†  Some of the actors put the woman off or fled backstage. John Huddleston, one of the stage hands, wondered if the woman was talking about Clancy Bottom, another stage hand who worked at the Globe. Bottom was a climber and a good-looking man with a beard who sometimes carried a spear in certain plays.   John Huddleston was a stage hand at the Globe Theater. He was 19 years old and was very intelligent. He had been thrown out of his home by his parents who thought he should learn an honest profession rather than spend all his time with dusty books and tomes. He found work at the Globe Theater but hoped to eventually go to University someday. He was average-looking with brown, unkempt hair, clean-shaven, and had bags under his eyes from staying up late of a night, reading.   Due to his age and youthful, if not attractive, appearance, he sometimes played the roles of girls, particularly woman in the background of scenes. He had worked at the Globe for about a year.   “Where’s my Clancy?†the woman cried out. “I tell you, someone’s going to find my Clancy!†  She rushed over to Huddleston.   “You there!†she said to the man. “Do you know where my Clancy is? Where’s my Clancy?†  “The last time I saw him was Monday,†Huddleston said.   “What? Well, he’s not been home since Sunday. Where is he? Whenever he’s off on a fling or something, he’s always with you actor bunch. That’s always what he’s doing! He’s never been gone more than a night or two at the outside. It’s always been his fancy acting friends from the Globe that keep him away! So, you must know where he is!†  “I’m sorry. I don’t.†  “Well, who does? Who knows? You tell me and take me to the man! Take me to the man!†  “Um …   Huddleston looked around for the lead actor, Vincent Hawksworth, but he was not their either. Huddleston had heard there had been a party the night before and Hawksworth had indulged quite heavily. He might not have been able to get up that morning. Only Francis Jaimes stood nearby, looking on with mild curiosity.   Francis Jaimes was a musician at the theater. He was a master of the violin whose temperament often ran hot or cold. Being 24 years old, he was a solid and handsome young man with red hair and a clean-shaven face. His violin was his prized possession, that and his blunderbuss having been handed down to him by his father. He lived in a little attic apartment in Southwark and liked its solitude. Like most people working at the Globe, he was sometimes called upon to stand on the stage for scenes. He had worked at the Globe for about four years.   “Well, this is Francis,†Huddleston said. “He works pretty closely with the actors. Maybe he knows.†  “Where’s my husband?†the woman rounded upon Jaimes.   The man was taken aback. He knew Clancy Bottom but not terribly well: the man owed him sixpence from the week before. He remembered Bottom being at the theater on Monday because he had knocked over a table during the play that day, a vapid comedy that was not doing well called Shield of the Solstice. He played “A Gentleman on the Street†in the show. Bottom had been with the theater for some nine years, or so he’d heard.   “Yes,†Jaimes said. “I believe I saw him Monday. He was playing a character in one of the plays …†  “That’s all well and good, but where is he right now?†Mrs. Bottom said.   “The last thing I remember, ma’am, is him knocking over a table. Must’ve been drunk.†  “Well he’s gone now. He’s a very clumsy man.†  “I know you’re in a huff, madam, but …†  “He could be dead! I don’t know what to do!†  The woman breathed heavily, obviously in great distress, and then started crying. She grabbed Jaimes around the neck and started sobbing into his tunic. Jaimes, visibility uncomfortable at being touched, looked around desperately. She didn’t seem to notice.   “My poor Clancy!†she said. “Where could he be? Someone help me find my Clancy!†  “I’m not the one to help you,†Jaimes said.   “Oh please sir, please. You have such a kind face!†  Jaimes tried to disentangle himself from the woman.   “He’s been gone for three days!†she said, still sobbing. “That’s not something Clancy would do. He’s a good father. He’s a good husband. We’re not rich people! We rely on both of our jobs to get by.†  “Ma’am,†Jaimes said. “I will check backstage. I will ask around.†  “Oh, please do,†she said. “We live over in Eastcheap. If you find him, send him home! I miss my Clancy!†  Jaimes walked backstage, just wanting to get away from the woman. Huddleston accompanied him and asked the actors if they had seen the man. A few remembered him knocking over the table on Monday but that was the last time anyone had seen of him. Another of the stage hands, Edward Unton, who was very ugly and had very bad teeth, knew Bottom lived in Eastcheap just west of the tower and that he had a couple of children. The entire family was pretty poor.   Jaimes approached Huddleston.   “I think we should look for him,†Huddleston said to the musician. “He seems like a really nice guy.†  “Well, I just remembered he owes me sixpence,†Jaimes said.   “You want that money back, don’t you?†  “Of course I do. It’s mine.†  “Well then …†  “Did the woman tell you anything else?†  “No, she didn’t. I sent her over to you because I wasn’t entirely sure what to do.†  Huddleston questioned the other backstage men. He talked to Unton first. As usual, he could hardly understand the man and he might be Welsh.   “Unton, did you do anything with Clancy Monday night after the show?†Huddleston asked.   “No,†Unton replied. “Haven’t seen Clancy. He knocked over that table. He was very embarrassed by it. But, no. I thought he went home.†  “He knocked over that table …†  “Yeah, remember? In scene three.†  “Yes.†  “Of that Shield of the Solstice disaster. He knocked that table over. Nobody even noticed! That’s how bad the play was!†  “Right.†  “But I remember it.†  Huddleston found Dennis Isley, another stage hand and an excellent carpenter. He was a greasy blonde Scot with a goatee and mustache.   “No,†Isley said. “I havna seen him.†  “You didn’t do anything Monday night after Shield of the Solstice?†Huddleston asked.   “No. No. I wen’ home an’ wen’ t’ sleep. I’m tired. At night, I get tired.†  “Uh …†  “I had some drinks! Bu’ no’ wi’ him.†  “Who did you have drinks with?†  “Just a few o’ th’ boys.†  “Okay, well, good to talk to you, Dennis.†  Huddleston talked to Richard Steward, a stage hand and a budding actor. He had, in the last months, been given a few small parts to see if he were good enough to become an actor.   “Forsooth!†Steward said in a high-class accent when Huddleston approached him. “Yes? I haven’t seen Bottom either. He didn’t come for his …†  He thought a moment.   “Can’t think of the word!†he said, falling back into cockney. “Blast! He wasn’t here on Tuesday, I remember that.†  “Okay,†Huddleston said.   * * *   Vincent Hawksworth was 27 years old and clean-shaven. He was of average looks and height but was a remarkable actor, able to take on almost any part with an ease that baffled most. He was the lead actor in the troupe at the Globe by 1613, having risen to that prominence after the death of Alfred Kent to the plague in 1609.   Hawksworth had been an actor at the Globe Theater when it first moved to Southwark in 1599, a young lad with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men who often played the women’s roles. He was 15 years old when The Pirates of Candle Cove had been produced at the Globe in the summer of 1600 and the experience affected him profoundly. He had left the theater for three years, working as a Queen’s Censor for some years and returning in 1603 after the strange occurrences surrounding the fragments of a play by Christopher Marlowe and events under the Tower of London in 1603.   He had been making rather merry the night before and was still feeling the effect of too much food and drink.   As he approached the theater that Thursday, he was accosted in the street by Agnus Bottom.   “You’re Vincent Hawksworth?†she said. “You work with my husband, Clancy? You’ve got to find him! He’s gone missing. He’s been missing since Sunday night! Have you seen him? Can you find my husband for me, please?†  “All … all right, lady,†the hung-over Hawksworth said.   “You promise? You promise? Please promise me!†  “Take a few steps back. Please. I’ve had a couple of drinks. And your voice is like nails into my ears.†  “I’m terribly sorry,†the woman said, lowering her voice. “I’m terribly sorry. Please. You know my husband, Clancy Bottom?†  “Little lower.†  “He works backstage.†  Hawksworth remembered the handsome Clancy Bottom. Mrs. Bottom told him the man had been missing since Sunday and he remembered seeing the man in a play on Monday when he knocked over a table.   “I’m sure Clancy’s just in a gutter somewhere after drinking a couple of ales,†Hawksworth said.   “He’s never been gone this long,†Mrs. Bottom said. “He’s gone off for a day or two with his acting buddies but he’s never been gone this long.†  “Well, there’s a first time for everything, isn’t there.†  “No. It’s not something Clancy would do.†  Hawksworth sighed.   “Please promise you’ll find him, Mr. Hawksworth!†she said. “Please. I’ll be forever in your debt.†  “What about the guard?†Hawksworth said. “The guard can find him.†  “No, they’re useless! I need someone with brains and … bile.†  “Well, I don’t know that I have brains after how much I drank last night.†  “Please promise you’ll help me, Mr. Hawksworth.†  She started crying.   “Yes,†he said. “Yes. Just …†  “Thank you so much!†she said. “Thank you so much! We live in Eastcheap but I haven’t seen him three days!†  They parted and Hawksworth went to the Globe where he found John Huddleston talking to several actors about Bottom. Francis Jaimes also stood nearby, listening to the other man. Hawksworth stood to one side and listened to Huddleston who was just finished talking to Richard Steward.   “Is there anywhere he likes to go drinking?†Huddleston asked the man. “That you know of?†  “I don’t know,†Steward said. “I’ve been going to the Mermaid, because … you know …†  His voice took the upper class accent again.   “… that’s where us actors go,†he said with a wink.   Huddleston noticed Hawksworth and Jaimes and mentioned he was going to looking for Clancy Bottom after rehearsal that day, noting they could come with him if they wished.   * * *   During rehearsal, Hawksworth found Roland Jay, a tall and good-looking man he knew was excellent at death scenes. Jay had played the villain Milos when the theater had done the terrible play The Pirates of Candle Cove once and only once in 1600. The man was Welsh as well. He and Hawksworth never talked about that terrifying play.   “Oi, Jay, give me a swig of that flask you got there,†Hawksworth said to the man. “I know you got one under your coat.†  “Here you are, Hawksworth,†Jay said.   He handed over his flask and Hawksworth took a swig.   “It’s just ale,†Jay said with a smile. “Hair of the dog!†  “What is this?†Hawksworth said.   “Ale.†  “Is it?†  “Well … mostly.†  “Mostly?†  “I had to p*** earlier!†  Jay laughed uproariously at his terrible joke.   “Where’s Bottom?†Hawksworth said.   “I don’t know,†Jay said. “Haven’t seen him. Knocked over that table a few days ago. Haven’t seen him since.†  “God’s breath! You drink with him now! Where is he? His wife approached me. Where is he?†  “Oh! She approached you, eh! Say no more!†  “I don’t need to be going for girls like her. Trust me.†  “I don’t know. She’s a looker.†  “Well …†  “I haven’t seen him. I don’t usually drink with him. He … he’s been … he talks to the stage hands and such and I know he’s from Eastcheap but, other than that … I’m not his friend or anything .†  “Well, I don’t think anyone is friends with stage hands.†  “Isley and Unton and Steward and Huddleston. They see as much of him as we do.†  “What’s all this talk of him knocking over a table? My mind’s a little foggy.†  “Remember, he was playing ‘A Gentleman on the Street’ and there was that scene and he went and he bumped that table and he knocked everything off. Remember that? You were there.†  “You don’t think he took it that hard, do you?†  “No. No. It happens. We gave him a little ribbing afterwards but these things happen. I wouldn’t think. He’s done worse! Remember that time he fell through that tapestry six months ago?†  “Was that the one they had to sew back because he ripped it?†  “Yes! He ripped it in the middle of the show and made that ‘Waahh!’ noise. Remember that? It got a laugh. We put it in the play after that.†  “He screamed like a girl.†  “Yes!†  “Good times.†  “That was much worse than the table incident. I don’t think he would have taken it personally. It’s kind of strange he didn’t show up after that.†  “It’s just strange that’s that last time we saw him.†  “Right … well … he didn’t come in the next day. He was here for rehearsal afterwards.†  “His wife hasn’t seen him since Sunday and he did the table incident Monday.†  “That was Monday so he didn’t go home Sunday night, you’re saying?†  “Yeah. Or Monday.†  “Or Tuesday or Wednesday.†  “Of course. I just don’t know where he would have gone.†  “No. There’s Eastcheap. You could always ask around there if you’re looking for him.†  “I suppose. One more swig, if you please.†  “Here you are. If you can stand it with your … loving of the wine and the tah-tah-tah-tah-tah.†  The man took the flask back. Hawksworth figured he should look for Bottom or else he’d never heard the end of it from Mrs. Bottom.   * * *   It was mid-afternoon when the actors and stage hands left the theater, most of them going their own separate ways. Hawksworth approached Huddleston.   “So, I suppose Bottom’s wife came to you as well?†he said.   “Yes,†Huddleston said. “Yes. She did. Sir.†  “And she cried and cried and cried?†  “Yes. Sir.†  “And it was piercing your ears as well?†  “Yes.†  “Are you drunk?†  “No! No, of course not! I don’t get drunk that often.†  “Oh. Well, that’s where all the fun is. Anyways. Is anyone else going with you? I suppose I will, just because I really don’t want that woman coming back to me Friday when I need to be mentally focused on the play.†  “I have a connection with a physician,†a voice muttered from the shadow of the stage.   “Who?†Hawksworth said.   Jaimes stepped out of the darkness.   “I have connections with a physician in the city,†he said. “I’ll talk to him.†  “All right,†Hawksworth said. “So, we’re going to …†  “Are you quite all right?†Jaimes said to him.   “No,†Hawksworth said. “I’m not all right.†  He actually felt better since he’d had a little of Jay’s ale, but felt he should be as dramatic as possible. As usual.   “I’m not all right,†he said. “But … Bottom’s first. Right?†  They decided on that course of action, Huddleston and Hawksworth going to Eastcheap while Jaimes went to visit his physician friend.   * * *   Eastcheap proved to be a busy neighborhood. They asked about Clancy Bottom for a few hours but only met a Walter Fane, who told them he was a drinking buddy of Bottom’s. The stage hand had been worrying about something as of late. His mind seemed to have been taken up by something. Fane told them he was usually at their local tavern on Sunday.   “Usually, we drink together of a Sunday,†Fane said. “But he wasn’t there on Sunday. The last I saw him was on Saturday night. Saw no sign of him on Sunday. Maybe he found another place to drink.†  “Well, you’re no help,†Hawksworth said. “We saw him Monday.†  “We saw him Monday,†Huddleston said. “He knocked over a table.†  “Sorry,†Fane said.   Hawksworth just walked away.   They next went to the Bottom house and found it was a narrow, two-story building attached to the buildings around it. Huddleston knocked on the door. Agnus Bottom answered.   “Have you found him?†she said with a gasp.   “I’m sorry,†Huddleston said. “We haven’t.†  Her face fell.   “Oh, my heart,†she said.   “But we are looking for him,†Huddleston said.   “Thank you so much. Thank you!†  She shook their hands.   “Oh, thank you Mr. Hawksworth,†she said. “Thank you … you.†  “I’d like to take a look around if I may,†Hawksworth said. “In your house.†  “Oh! Do you think there might be something here that could give you a clue as to where he’s gone?†  “There might be,†Huddleston said. “Yes.†  “I don’t know but I can read, so I might be able to find something,†Hawksworth said.   “All right,†she said. “You can look as much as you want. There’s a garden out back. You can look in the garden.†  She ushered them into the house and introduced them to her boys: Cecil, age 10, and John, age 8. The children were just sitting down to supper. The ground floor was a kitchen and living area. Mrs. Bottom showed them the small garden in the back. Upstairs was a bedroom where all four of them obviously lived.   Hawksworth and Huddleston searched the room upstairs. They found two large beds and a chest of clothes.   “Mrs. Bottom?†Hawksworth said.   “Yes?†the woman said, coming up the stairs.   “This trunk full of clothes …†  “Oh yes, that’s our clothing. And the children’s.†  “Does it look like any is missing?†  “No. No.†  “So, he didn’t take clothing for an extended stay away from his house.†  “No, he only has two outfits.†  “And he didn’t take the other one.†  “No, it’s right here. This is it. It’s his nice clothes.†  “I can see that, ma’am,†Huddleston said.   The clothing wasn’t actually very nice.   “And does he have anywhere where he writes or he gets letters?†Hawksworth asked.   “Well, he can read and write but he doesn’t do it very well,†Mrs. Bottom said. “He had a scrap of paper he was looking at. I said ‘What is that? What is that, Clancy? What are you looking at?’ And he said ‘It’s nothing, dear. It’s just nothing. Don’t you never mind. I don’t want you to worry about it.’ So I did … worry about it.†  “Do you have the scrap of paper with you?†Huddleston said.   “No no,†she said. “He took it. He had it with him.†  “Okay.†  “I wanted to take a look but he wouldn’t let me.†  “Okay.†  “Who gave him this paper?†Hawksworth asked.   “I don’t know,†Mrs. Bottom said. “I don’t know.†  Huddleston suggested they talk to Walter Fane about the scrap of paper and so went in search of the man. He found him at a local tavern but Fane didn’t know anything about a piece of paper.   “He’s got to be drinking somewhere though,†Fane said.   “He’s got to be drinking somewhere?†Huddleston said.   “Well … what else would you do?†  “I suppose you’re right about that.†  * * *   Dr. Everett Whitewood was a physician and 37 years old. He had dark hair, shot through with white, and a full beard. He wore fine but not ostentatious clothing and was married to his plump and loving wife, Abigail. They had lost two of their children to the plague in 1609. Rose and Tommy had died despite the family moving to the country during the plague and the ministrations of Dr. Whitewood. Rose had been 10 and Tommy had been four. Only his oldest son, Edmund, had lived. In 1613, Edmund was 18 years old and working as a carpenter in the country. He had fallen in love with his master’s daughter and they had been wed, having a child of their own, whom they had named Everett after Edmund’s father.   Dr. Whitewood was having an early supper with Peter Godfrey, a 33-year-old banker and a mound of a man. He was stout, as his position rarely forced him to go hungry. Single, he considered himself married to his work, and had a thick, bushy beard while the hair on top of his head was thinning. He often wore a floppy hat to hide the latter. He wore fine clothing and often carried a pistol hidden on his person. Baldrick was still his manservant. After the events at the Globe Theater and under the house of Joseph Barker in 1603, he was still terrified of stairs.   The door to the sitting room where they ate was tapped upon by Dr. Whitewood’s wife, Abigail.   “A gentleman here to see you,†she said. “It’s that fiddle player that you had come for my birthday.†  “I didn’t ask him to come but … I did!†Dr. Whitewood said. “I did! I wanted to surprise you!†  She gave him a look that showed she didn’t believe him.   “Do you want to see him or not?†she said.   “Yes, I’ll see him,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Well, he doesn’t have a violin to play for me,†she said, leaving the room. “I’ll send him in.†  Francis Jaimes was ushered into the room and recognized Dr. Whitewood. He didn’t know the gentleman with him. There was a good deal of food and drink on the table in front of them including roast mutton, bread, and cheese. The other man belched as he entered.   “Dr. Whitewood,†Jaimes said. “It’s so nice to see you.†  “Yes,†Dr. Whitewood said. “What brings you here … without your violin?†  “Yes, well, that’s back in safe keeping in my room. I was wondering, as you are a physician, if you had seen a man by the name of Clancy Bottom. I know you partake of the art rather occasionally.†  “I haven’t seen any Clancy Bottom. He’s probably a little too poor to have my services.†  “I thought that to myself. He owes me sixpence. Scoundrel! I guess I have no choice but to find him.†  “If you do come by later, maybe you could play for my wife. I’ll pay you a little more than sixpence.†  “I might take you up on your offer. I greatly appreciate that.†  “So, what has you interested in this Clancy Bottom?†  “Well, his wife came in, just blabbering about. She hugged me. You know how I am about physical contact.†  “Yes.†  “Well, she was very distraught. Looking for him. Hasn’t seen him since Sunday. The last time I saw him was Monday when he knocked over a table.†  Both Whitewood and Godfrey had been to the play. It was a new comedy by Evered Eggerley about a magical shield that created miracles on the Summer solstice and several men, all from different countries and backgrounds, who tried to get hold of it. In the end, it was lost to the sea and the men became best of friends. It was fairly typical of Eggerley’s plays: trite and not as funny as it should have been.   “Yes, my wife doesn’t like the comedies,†Dr. Whitewood said. “They’re a little too vulgar for her. But me and Godfrey did get a chuckle out of them.†  “Never again,†Godfrey grunted. “Never again.†  “It was pretty terrible. The table was actually the funniest part.†  “I was sleeping through it and that’s what woke me up.†  “The only reason this concerns me is because he owes me money,†Jaimes said.   “Well, that’s …†Dr. Whitewood said.   “That’s a very good reason!†Godfrey said.   “We’ve got nothing better to do this evening, Godfrey,†Dr. Whitewood said. “We should just try to find …†  “I’d rather not go home to Baldrick,†Godfrey said.   “… this young man,†Dr. Whitewood said. “Oh, that’s true.†  The three of them went to Eastcheap.   * * *   Hawksworth had walked around the neighborhood, seeing what he could hear. It was not long before he ran into Huddleston, Jaimes, Dr. Whitewood, and Godfrey. Hawksworth recognized the last two from their terrible adventure some 10 years before.   “Well, Bottom’s as good as dead if you two are involved,†Hawksworth said to Dr Whitewood and Godfrey.   “Oh,†Huddleston said.   “Is that any way to talk to your friends, Hawksworth?†Godfrey said.   “You two only show up when bad things happen,†Hawksworth said.   “I think it’s the opposite, sir,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “You know these two, Mr. Hawksworth?†Huddleston said.   “Oh, I know them,†Hawksworth said. “I met them when my friend committed suicide.†  “Oh,†Huddleston said.   “Hey, he was our friend too!†Dr. Whitewood said.   “He was more my friend,†Hawksworth said. “Maybe.†  “I think that’s conjecture,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “We were cut from the same cloth,†Hawksworth said. “That’s why I think he was more my friend. What stake do you have finding a stage hand?†  “Boredom, really,†Godfrey said.   “This young man approached us,†Dr. Whitewood said, indicating Jaimes.   “Well, as you may have overheard back at the theater, he owes me sixpence,†Jaimes said.   “Is that it?†Hawksworth said.   “Yes!†Jaimes said. “His wife’s a blubbering maniac right now, so …†  “Believe me, I know that,†Hawksworth said.   “And Clancy’s my friend,†Huddleston said. “I want to help him.†  “Okay, well there’s the real motive then,†Hawksworth said. “Still … everyone we talk to hasn’t even seen him later than we have. We saw him Monday and the people we talk to have only seen him Sunday.†  “Who have you talked to?†Jaimes asked.   “His drinking pal over at the … where?†Hawksworth said. “Where was it?†  “It was The Tavern,†Huddleston said.   “You’d think I would remember a name like that,†Hawksworth said. “Anyway, the only clue that we have is that he was really worried about some piece of paper that his wife didn’t even see and if she had, she probably can’t read, so that’s it. He’s gone. It’s over. I’m ready for the play Friday and I’m going to go home.†  “It might be over for you, but that’s a lot of money for me, mate,†Jaimes said.   “Is the play tomorrow going to be a good one?†Dr. Whitewood asked the actor.   “Oh, it’s going to be the best,†Hawksworth said. “Because every play, I get better and better and better.†  “I’ll be sure to bring the wife,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “I might be able to carry a couple of ales with me and watch you search for a man who’s been missing for four days,†Hawksworth said. “That might be fun. But honestly, he’s gone. He’s left his wife. He didn’t want to have kids and he had kids so he left the kids. That’s what I think.†  “You don’t waste time in judgment, do you?†Jaimes said.   “There has to be more to it than that,†Huddleston said. “He doesn’t seem like the kind of man who would just leave.†  “Well, I never really knew him,†Hawksworth said. “So … if you say so. But what reason would he have to be gone for four days other than ditching his life.†  “I don’t know. He could have been kidnapped or─†  “Who would kidnap a stage hand? There like the lowest of the … wait. Sorry.†  “Maybe it was a lover’s note,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Ooo,†Hawksworth said. “Now that I could see.†  “That’s an idea,†Jaimes said.   “He took the sixpence from you, got him some Eastcheap whore, and how they’re fleeing together across the Thames!†Hawksworth said. “I bet you. I bet you! Case … solved.†  “Detective Hawksworth,†Dr. Whitewood quipped.   “I don’t know,†Huddleston said. “His wife is also … I mean … not that I’m after his wife or anything … but …†  “Did you find anything else at his house?†Jaimes asked.   “Found out he only has two outfits and he didn’t take the other one,†Hawksworth said.   “If he was trying to make a clean getaway for a new life, why didn’t he just take his things?†Jaimes asked. “Why did he just, all of a sudden, leave them?†  “Maybe to avoid suspicion,†Hawksworth guessed. “Regardless … why don’t we just see if shows up tomorrow and, if he doesn’t, then we know he just ran away.†  “Well …†Huddleston said. “Well, I mean, if he shows up … if only we could figure out where he could have gone on Monday night after the play.†  Huddleston decided to search around Southwark.   “Let’s go have an ale,†Dr. Whitewood said to Godfrey.   “Did you say ‘ale?’†Hawksworth said.   “You know I did, Hawksworth,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “You two think you could buy some ale for an up-and-coming actor?†Hawksworth said. “With your medical and banker money?†  Jaimes, not wanting to intrude, went home.   The other three headed for the Mermaid Inne just off Cheapside, one of the busiest thoroughfares in London, on Bread Street. Cheapside, near Whitehall, was one of the busiest merchant districts in the city. The Inne remained popular with the artistically inclined: poets, painters, playwrights, composers, actors, and the like. It was also the home of the “Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen,†a drinking club founded in 1603 allegedly by Sir Walter Raleigh that met on the first Friday of every month and included such amazing writers as Ben Jonson, John Donne, John Fletcher, and others. The ale and the talk were both stimulating and plentiful in the place. The landlord of the establishment was William Johnson.   Bertrand Derrington was still the tavern keeper though he was getting on in years. He was as talkative as ever and glad to chat with anyone at all, as usual. He didn’t always make sense but was sharper than one would think and had a memory that spanned over 40 years clearly, it seemed. He was especially able to recall verse, rhymes, riddles and songs, and he had been asked more than once to join an acting company but always waved such advances off as he knew his place.   “Oh, hello Hawksworth!†he said upon seeing the actor. “C’mon in. You want an ale? What will you ‘ave?†  “Give me an ale,†Hawksworth said. “One of these two is going to pay for it.†  “Oh!†Bertrand said. “Such fine gentlemen for our establishment.†  “I don’t have to put it on my tab this time!†  “But you will have to pay that tab off someday, though.†  “I’m waiting for you to die.†  “Oh, you’ll be waiting a long time.†  “I’ll die before you probably.†  “You’re out late of a night. Two nights in a row, Hawksworth? What are you doing?†  “Oh …†  “Spreading more rumors, are you?†  “You know it! Looking for … a Bottom. You seen a Clancy Bottom?†  “Oh yes. Good looking fella. He was in here a few nights ago.†  “What night was that?†  “Uh, let’s see. Sunday night and Monday night he did come here.†  “Jesus wept!†  “That’s right. Everyone comes to the Mermaid sooner or later. Handsome man, right? I remember he told me he worked at the Globe. I thought o’ you.   “In troth, that I did remember. For he was a thick-headed fellow, though quite fair to look upon. He was also quite polite, but, I fear, somewhat put out by a speech Ben Jonson did so make, quoting one of his masques for the King. He has not been seen so much around here since he stopped writing public plays so it was quite entertaining, but I fear the lad did not understand a half of it. I’ll be frank and admit I was, myself, confused.   “T’was that second night he did leave with a stranger and that sticks right with me as queer, almost something out of a tragedy or folktale.   “You see, Bottom kept asking all of the learned men about certain symbols he’d written down on a scrap of parchment he had folded in his pocket. I saw it, for he asked me as well. T’was some kind of deviltry about it, I think. Something unwholesome and evil, on the whole. He asked if I’d ever seen the like and I admitted I certainly had not as I am a God-fearing man though I don’t always make it to church of a Sunday. Many of the other men didn’t cotton to his questions either and Ben Jonson called him a fool and warned him of the coming storm of charges of blasphemy should he not hide away the terrible paper.   “But what was strange was on that second night as he were here, another fellow arrived even as he began to question those in the tavern again, asking them if they’d ever seen such as the terrible things on the parchment. This man, why he’s all dressed in finery like a Lord, and had black hair and a beard. His clothing looked foreign and his cap, though like my own, was fancy and made of velvet, I do believe. As were his clothing.   “There was something wrong about him though, I swear to you, and in troth, I did not like having him here. He went straight to Bottom and took him to a table where the two talked for some time. I brought them ale and, of course, could not help but overhear a little of their conversation, though I hated to see the man caught up in someone as obviously touched by the devil himself as this man was.   “There was a smell about him, you see. It was like an open grave or rotten meat. It was subtle, but it seemed to cling to him, though he had perfume enough about him to cover it, for the most part. His beady little eyes were never still either, almost as if he feared to be caught up by someone at any moment. I noticed, though he tried to hide it as well, that there was a certain threadbare quality about his clothing.   “They talked, as I could hear, about certain symbols that mystified Bottom. This other fellow, who’s name I never clearly heard, but it was something like Littleton or Lordlyson, said, and I remember this clearly ‘I can help you with these, good man, as I have seen them many times before. Come to my house in Islington that we might decipher their meaning together and perhaps you might never have to darken the doorway of such places as this again.’ I know not what he meant by that but it sent a shiver down my spine, I do say.   “Those two, they left together and I peeked out as they did so to see a fine carriage driving away in the direction of Islington, I did indeed. And that’s the last I ever see of either of those fellows.†  “You see the strangest things around here,†Hawksworth said.   “Oh yes, I see everything Hawksworth. Including your tab. When do you plan on paying that?†  “How big has it gotten already?†  “It’s over five pounds.†  “Oh … God …†  “I know you’re good for it Hawksworth. I might trade in some of that for some tickets someday. If I ever make it to Southwark.†  “Please, if you ever see a corpse on the street with five pounds in his purse, please tell me first, won’t you?†  “If I see a corpse with 10 pounds, I’ll tell you about the five.†  * * *

Max_Writer

Max_Writer

 

Supped Full with Horrors Part 2 - The Trail to Islington

* * *   Friday, June 25, 1613, saw the Globe Theater showing The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster, a macabre, tragic play that began as a love story of a Duchess who married beneath her class, and ended as a nightmarish tragedy as her brothers undertook their revenge, destroying themselves in the process. It was originally shown at Blackfriars in 1612 and remained very popular.   Dr. Whitewood took his wife to see the play, meeting Godfrey there.   The play did very well, as always. Hawksworth had a major role and did excellently as one of the brothers, even more so than usual. Jaimes did not do well with his violin, he felt, as he couldn’t stop thinking about Clancy Bottom. He actually broke a string in the second act and had to play the rest of the act on three strings, which was not only difficult but impossible. He pulled it off adequately. None of the audience seemed to notice but the actors and others at the theater did, and saw Jaimes’ face get redder and redder with rage as the play progressed. Godfrey actually heard the string break.   Word spread like wildfire backstage and the other actors gave Jaimes a wide berth. He had broken a string during a performance once before and, when one of the actors had tried to console him, he had beaten the man about the head and shoulders. Now they knew better.   Hawksworth sought out Godfrey and Dr. Whitewood after the show.   “It was a fine performance, Hawksworth,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Fine!?!†Hawksworth said.   “Very fine.†  “All right. If you add the ‘very’ to it, I might accept it.†  “I’ll go buy you a drink.†  Abigail Whitewood loved the play and fawned over the actor. She told Hawksworth how wonderful a job he had done, noting several things in the play and even commenting upon them as if Hawksworth had actually done them to the other actors.   “Say ‘Money can’t buy that,’†Hawksworth whispered to Godfrey.   Dr. Whitewood had noted, since their children had died in 1609, his wife loved tragedies. She seemed to enjoy watching terrible things happen to other people. But he was happy when his wife was happy.   She took Hawksworth aside.   “Except for this friend of my husbands,†she confided in him. “If you could get rid of him, I would appreciate it. He sat and farted and burped the entire production. It was either him or my husband, and I won’t believe that of my darling, Everett.†  Hawksworth looked over at Godfrey, who had a mug of ale in his hand.   “Whitewood, I think you should escort your wife home and then we should go to Islington,†Hawksworth said to the Doctor. “Because right now it’s probably a good time to pursue this Bottom.†  “You might want to grab those optimistic lads while you’re at it,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Who?†  “Those two boys who were looking for Bottom.†  “Oh! The other two: the stagehand and the musician. Of course. I don’t want to talk to the musician though. You should talk to the musician!†  “I did him to …†  “Your wife had questions about the play. I will escort her home, answer all of her questions, she’ll be satisfied,─†  “Oh, she’ll love that.†  “─you talk to the musician and … yes. You’ll talk to the musician.†  “I’ll meet you at Islington.†  Godfrey and Hawksworth locked eyes.   “Yes, Whitewood,†Godfrey said.   “Yes, Whitewood!†Hawksworth said. “You go get the people of the names I do not know.†  “I’ll meet you in Islington then,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “If your survive,†Hawksworth muttered.   He turned to Godfrey.   “Godfrey, would you please help me escort Whitewood’s wife home?†he said.   The other gentleman agreed and they quickly left.   * * *   Jaimes, still furious, was restringing his violin when Dr. Whitewood came into the backstage area with a grin on his face. As Dr. Whitewood approached him, he saw the man looked angry. The broken violin string was under his foot and he kept grinding it into the floor.   “Young Jaimes!†Dr. Whitewood said with a smile. “Lovely performance out there … as usual.†  “What?†Jaimes growled. “Is it? Whitewood?†  “Well … we were looking into the-the Bottom thing and we actually learned something at the Mermaid,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Wait,†Huddleston said, slipping out from behind a flat. “You know something about Mr. Bottom?†  “Uh, yes,†Dr. Whitewood said. “We were at the mermaid and the barkeep saw him leave with a … weird gentleman. We have a lead in Islington. So, Hawksworth is on the way there after he drops off my lovely wife.†  “Oh!†Huddleston said.   “If he’d paid me my sixpence … this wouldn’t have happened!†Jaimes said.   “Uh …†Huddleston said.   “Well?†Jaimes grunted. “What are we to do now?†  “I guess we’re going to Islington,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Islington,†Huddleston echoed.   “God damned Islington,†Jaimes muttered.   “I’ll certainly come with you to Islington,†Huddleston said.   They both looked at Jaimes. He felt their eyes on him like metal burning into his soul.   “Well,†he finally said. “Fine. When we find him, I’ll give him …†  His growl turned into incoherent muttering.   “If he’s not dead already, he will be!†he finally ended, closing the case.   They went Jaimes’ attic apartment and he left his violin there, replacing it in the case with his blunderbuss, which barely fit, before they headed off to Islington.   * * *   Hawksworth and Godfrey escorted Mrs. Whitewood to the doctor’s home. She talked the actor’s ear off, very appreciative of the macabre, tragic play and his part in it. She seemed loathe to part with him but he had to go on his way. The two men headed for the Islington on foot.   Islington was more a dormitory village or a borough than an actual village. Part of London, technically, it was formed in the Middle Ages as an overnight stop for cattle on the way to Smithfield. However, by the early 17th century, most of the last was given to aristocratic families and it had grown into a village spreading along Upper Street and Lower Road. The fields there housed farms that also provided forage and shelter for passing herds. By 1590, there were nine taverns clustered in the area.   The rural atmosphere, with access to the City and Westminster, made it a popular residential area for the rich and affluent. Many fugitives and recusants were often harbored at the local inns, however.   Just south of Islington proper, Clerkenwell was seen as harboring a great number of insolent people and habitations of beggars, illegal in London, and people without trade, as well as stables, inns, alehouses, taverns, garden-houses converted to dwellings, ordinaries, dicing houses, bowling alleys, and brothel houses. Clerkenwell contained a notorious brothel quarter on Turnbull Street. Clerkenwell Gaol was also there, a new structure used to house prisoners on short sentences.   Hawksworth asked about a man with a velvet hat. Godfrey asked about a Littleton or Lordlyson.   In that time, the other three had been asking about Clancy Bottom, with Dr. Whitewood asking about Hawksworth and Godfrey as well.   What all of them noticed, even before they found each other, was mostly discomfort, especially about the man whom Clancy Bottom had met with: the man with the velvet hat. Many people looked uncomfortable and then quickly left the questioners. What they eventually learned was of a Lord Simon Loddington at Loddington Hall just northeast of the village proper. However, people didn’t seem to want to talk about him though they were able to get directions to the place.   They were also able to learn, though it was not easy, that Lord Loddington was not well thought of in Islington. He and his family mostly kept to themselves and there were some strange rumors of their sightings in local churchyards not long after burials and of some supposedly decadent connections in Clerkenwell either to brothels or to some of the less-than-savory folk who lived there. It was said no visitors had been to the house or grounds in years and the locals had taken to calling the place The Strange House. The Loddingtons had fallen on hard times, letting the servants go one by one over the years.   It was several hours before they found the others in Islington, late in the day. They decided to return to London that evening and planned to meet at Loddington Hall the following afternoon.   * * *   Saturday, June 26, 1613, saw the Globe performing Warriors Without Sin, a history by Gabriel Pettwood about the Spanish Armada sailing against England in 1588 only to be destroyed by the faster English ships and the storm that blew them north into the treacherous waters around Scotland. The main characters were the Spanish and the title was ironically what they referred to themselves as. The crowd loved it as there were many battles and sword fights and the Spanish lost in the end.   They had more rehearsals that afternoon and, in the late afternoon, all five of them met on the road that ran by Loddington Hall northeast of Islington. Jaimes apologized to Huddleston for his manner the day before.   A tall wall ran around the main property. However, the gatehouse in the wall was empty and the iron gate hung open. Peering in, they saw the grounds were a mess. Weeds and tall grass were ever-present and the drive leading up to the hall was rutted and mostly dirt, though there were signs gravel long-ago covered it. Some of the windows of the house were broken or cracked. A few were fitted with pieces of wood to fill in for broken glass.   Hawksworth suggested only he and Godfrey approach the house at first.   “We will mention that there are others who wish to question him and maybe talk about Bottom,†he said. “But Godfrey is rich and I am an actor so I can play a part that supports whatever Godfrey will talk about. But, if there are five of us and one is a stagehand, no offense, and one is a musician, no offense─†  “Offense taken,†Jaimes said.   “─and yes, you are a medicine man but … I still feel like two is better than four. We don’t want to overwhelm this man. Five people come asking for a missing man - a little suspicious. Two friends of the missing man, not so suspicious. What do you think?†  “You don’t get paid that much more than I do,†Huddleston said.   “True,†Hawksworth conceded. “But I have people that know my name.†  “Much as I want you to shut your gob, you have a point,†Jaimes said.   “I agree with you,†Huddleston said. “Besides, this place is kind of big and a little bit scary-looking.†  “A little the worse for wear,†Jaimes agreed.   “Not a place I want to be,†Hawksworth said. “But … clearly, Clancy Bottom is worth it.†  Godfrey and Hawksworth walked up the drive.   “I’m your servant,†Hawksworth said as they approached. “I will play the servant and I will do whatever is necessary to prove that I’m the servant. You have the money. Convince this man that he should let us in.   They walked up to the house   “But I am not a servant, I’m just playing one,†Hawksworth reminded Godfrey   They knocked upon the front door several times and it was a while before they heard a bolt pulled back and the door opened with a creak. The man who answered had a darkish complexion and black beard and mustache. He was tall, standing over six feet, and dressed finely though Godfrey noticed his clothing was a little threadbare. He squinted at the two, eyes narrow, beady, and looking down his nose at them.   “Who are you?†he said shortly. “What do you want?†  “Do I have the pleasure of addressing Lord Loddington?†Godfrey asked.   “Who wants to know? Who are you, sir?†  “I apologize. My name is Peter Godfrey and I am just a humble banker and this is my servant─†  “Banker?†  “─Baldrick.†  “We owe no debt!†  “No no no. I’m not here about debt that you would possibly owe. I see by your lavish house here, you probably have no debts.†  “Oh, yes.†  “I am actually looking for a man by the name of Clancy Bottom. Uh … he … uh … owes me a great deal of money and you were one of the last people to be seen with him.†  “Clancy Bottom? Clancy Bottom?†  “Yes. Was an actor at the Globe, I believe.†  “Yes, I … uh … I-I did meet him … at the Mermaid Inne, which I frequent very often. I frequent it very often, yes? He wanted to speak to me about something that I’m an expert at: astrology. I … was charmed by him and so I invited him to stay for supper.†  “Do you know what happened to Mr. Bottom after─†  “Who is this!?!†  Lord Loddington pointed at Hawksworth.   “Hm?†Godfrey said. “Oh, this is my servant. Introduce yourself.†  “May I?†Hawksworth said.   “Yes. I gave you permission. Introduce yourself.†  “I am Ben Vinceworth, the servant of Lord Godfrey.†  “Ben Vinceworth, huh?†  “Yes.†  “What do you wish with Bottom?†Lord Loddington asked Godfrey. “Are you friends of his?†  “No, I lent him money and I’m looking for him,†Godfrey said. “He disappeared some days ago. I’m searching around. You were just one of the last people he was seen with.†  “Oh, was I? I know of this Bottom. Perhaps you and your servant should sup with us. Have supper. We’ll speak then.†  “Oh.†  “If it is appropriate. You’re a banker, eh?†  “Yes.†  Lord Loddington looked the large man up and down.   “Yes, you should sup with I and my family,†he said. “Though we don’t have much, we do have some pigs and I can roast one up for supper.†  Hawksworth put his hand on Godfrey’s shoulder.   “I do not mean to speak out of turn,†Hawksworth said. “But you should also talk to him about the other lavish guests you have here in Islington, sir.†  “Yes,†Godfrey said. “I was getting to that.†  Lord Loddington glared at Hawksworth.   “Sorry,†Hawksworth said. “Sorry. Sorry.†  “Shut up, boy!†Lord Loddington said, stepping out and slapping Hawksworth in the face.   “Sorry!†Hawksworth cried out. “Sorry! Sorry!†  “Lavish guests?†Lord Loddington said. “Who are these lavish guests?†  “Oh, just some companions of mine that were helping me look for Mr. Bottom,†Godfrey said.   “Hm. You say they are rich as well?†  “Yes, there’s a doctor friend of mine and his two associates.†  “Ah. Why yes, send your boy to go fetch them. You may all sup with us this evening. You may have the run of the house while I go prepare the hogs.†  He looked at Hawksworth again.   “Go, boy!†he shouted at the man and pointed down the lane. “Fetch them!†  Hawksworth turned and ran towards the gatehouse.   “Mr. Godfrey,†Lord Loddington said, gesturing him to enter.   Godfrey entered the house, Lord Loddington closing the door behind him. The Hall was shabby with little of finery about it. It was also dirty and in disrepair, with the few things there covered in dust. The only clean item was a very large portrait of Lord Loddington with a woman and two young boys.   “You have the run of the house,†Lord Loddington said. “If you find a locked door, please respect my privacy. I will, of course, once your fellows arrive … I might be somewhat busy. If you hear a banging at the front door, you are welcome to open it. How many of them are there? Three, you say. Two companions and a physician?†  “Physician, yes,†Godfrey said, looking at the portrait.   “Very good. We shall sup in an hour or two. I will to the kitchen and prepare some pork. As I said, my family made its fortune in hogs, hog’s meat, and the like.†  “Very good.†  The man left the chamber. Godfrey looked around, uncomfortable.   * * *   Hawksworth came running around the corner of the gatehouse to the others, who were standing on the other side of the wall. He stopped, out of breath and sweating from the run.   “Mr. Hawksworth, what happened?†Huddleston said.   “What happened to Godfrey?†Dr. Whitewood asked.   “Where’s Godfrey?†Huddleston said.   “Bottom’s … murderer,†Hawksworth said between gulps of air.   “Excuse me?†Jaimes said.   “What!?!†Huddleston said.   “Is in that house,†Hawksworth said. “I swear it on God’s breath.†  They all looked at each other.   “What on Earth?†Jaimes said.   Hawksworth laughed.   “Godfrey’s in there alone,†he said.   He laughed again.   “Why’d you leave him alone?†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Because the man hit me!†Hawksworth said.   “Why did he hit you?†  “I was playing a servant. I couldn’t take the hit and then rebuttal. I had to run.†  “Oh,†Huddleston said. “Okay. Well …†  “I’m sorry,†Hawksworth said. “I’m sorry. It was a long run. I have not had to run for a while.†  Jaimes pushed past the actor and walked towards the gate.   “I have not had to run,†Hawksworth muttered again.   “Well, are we invited in, Mr. Hawksworth?†Huddleston said.   “Wait, hold on,†Hawksworth said to Jaimes.   He looked Dr. Whitewood up and down. The man wore very nice clothing with decorative fur and fine boots. He had his medical satchel. Hawksworth looked the others up and down. They wore simple clothing and Jaimes carried a violin case under his arm.   “Okay, here’s how it has to go,†Hawksworth said. “Me and Godfrey convinced him that Godfrey is looking for Clancy Bottom because Clancy Bottom owes Godfrey money.†  “That’s─†Dr. Whitewood said.   “But!†Hawksworth went on. “Clancy Bottom also owes you money! Okay? Because Clancy Bottom needs money because he is poor … and a stage hand. No offense once again. It’s just how life is. Anyways!†  “Once again, you don’t get paid that much more than me,†Huddleston said.   Hawksworth shushed him.   “I don’t want them to know that,†he whispered to the man.   He turned back to Dr. Whitewood.   “Anyways, we need to convince him, Loddington, who we just met, that you are here for the money and these are your servants,†Hawksworth said. “You have to play servants. I know you’re not actors but just do your best. It’ll come naturally. It should. Maybe. I don’t know. Just don’t speak. Let Whitewood and Godfrey do all the talking. We’ll figure out where Clancy Bottom is because this man, in my personal opinion, has killed Clancy Bottom. I know it. Or is at least holding him because this man is creepy. I don’t like him.†  He looked them over.   “You got that?†he said.   “Yes,†Huddleston said.   “Servant,†Hawksworth said, pointing at Huddleston.   Then he pointed at Jaimes.   “Servant,†he said.   He pointed at Dr. Whitewood.   “You want money,†he said.   “I always want money,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “I will lead you because he sent me to find you,†Hawksworth said. “Actually, we should wait here for a little bit. It’ll be a little weird if I bring you back immediately like you were waiting outside the wall. Which you were. I would say half an hour.†  * * *   Godfrey waited several minutes and then started to wander about the house the opposite direction Lord Loddington had gone, looking for clues to Bottom’s location. He wandered deeper into the place, heading for the dining parlor. It was very plain with only a few old shields on the walls. Everything was very dusty as if the room didn’t see much use or cleaning. He continued on to the low parlor chamber and the inner chamber, still wondering where the finery of the upper class was in the dirty house. He found the stool house, which still seemed to be use and wandered by some pantries that must have lain some distance from the kitchens. He passed through a little room and to the beer and wine cellars. A few casks were there but again, the place showed a lack of use for some time. Windows looked out into an overgrown inner court as well. He had reached the inner chamber and stool house towards the back of the building and could see some outbuildings out the windows when he heard a banging on the front door.   He headed back to the front of the house.   * * *   The others had waited for some time before they went up to the house. Their long knocking was eventually answered, somewhat to their surprise, by Godfrey.   “And where were you?†Godfrey said to them.   “So, where is our host?†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Preparing supper. Apparently.†  “Preparing his own supper? And ours? That’s strange.†  “I would make no mention of it. In fact, I found flattering him brightens his mood a bit.†  They entered the dirty hall. The windows were covered in dust and the only clean thing in the hall was the portrait. Everything else showed signs of months if not years of neglect.   “If he has any servants he should …†Dr. Whitewood said, then laughed uncomfortably. “… get rid of them.†  No one opening the front door was out of the ordinary in and of itself.   “So, he left us free reign of the house?†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Yes,†Godfrey said.   “I think we could cover more group quickly if we split up into two groups,†Hawksworth said. “Whitewood and the servants, Godfrey and me, because I’m a servant … playing a servant, of course. But the only reason I say this is because if the servants are found alone, that seems a little suspicious. ‘Servant, what are you doing away from your master?’†  “I would advise against splitting the group up, actually,†Huddleston said nervously. “It’s just this is a big place. That seems like a bad idea.†  “I don’t think we’re going to find Clancy Bottom in this big of a place if we all stay together,†Hawksworth said. “Maybe. But I doubt it. I think we should split up.†  “Well, maybe not individually,†Jaimes said.   “Well, I know how Godfrey is with stairs, so we’ll take upstairs,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Okay,†Huddleston said nervously. “I’ll go upstairs with Whitewood.†  They parted.   * * *   Dr. Whitewood, Jaimes, and Huddleston went upstairs. They passed through a dining chamber and found a room on the second floor was locked with a very solid door. They continued through a passage room and other various rooms, some of them locked, to a Gallery where they found a middle aged, finely dressed woman. She was dour-faced and did not look kindly upon the strangers. She put aside her needlepoint.   “Ah,†Dr. Whitewood said. “The lady of the house, I presume.†  “I am Susan Loddington, yes,†the woman said. “The lady of the house. Who are you?†  “Oh, we are guests of your husband. He said we could sup.†  Lady Loddington looked over all of them carefully.   “Oh, they’re just my servants,†Dr. Whitewood said. “Pay them no never mind. I am Dr Everett Whitewood.†  “Susan Loddington,†the woman said again. “If my husband has welcomed you to my house, you are welcome as well. Are you staying for supper?†  “Yes, that is what he invited us to.†  “Then I’m sure I shall see you there.†  “Ah … yes.†  The woman went back to her sewing. They left her.   They found several chambers on the east side of the house were also locked. Behind one of the locked room, they thought they heard the noise of two children.   As they returned through the passage on the second floor, they found another young woman they had not seen before. She was very pretty though seemed cold and regal. She wore find clothing and had brown hair pulled back tightly behind her head. She was of average height, slim, and probably about 16 years old. She was working on a dress of some kind. She seemed surprised at their presence.   “Oh,†the girl said. “Who are you?†  “We are guests of the Loddingtons for supper,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Ah. I am a Loddington. It’s so nice that they tell me what’s happening around here. Ellen Loddington. Pleased.†  She held out her hand and gently shook Dr. Whitewood’s hand. Then she held out her hand to Huddleston.   “Ellen Loddington,†she said. “Pleased.†  She held out her hand to Jaimes.   “Ellen Loddington,†she said as he took it. The she smiled and purred “Pleased.†  Jaimes frowned and pulled his hand back.   “Dr. Whitewood,†Whitewood said.   “Ah yes, Dr. Whitewood,†Susan said dismissively.   She turned back to Jaimes.   “And your name?†she said.   “Um … yes … I’m Francis Jaimes,†he said.   “Francis Jaimes, yes,†she said.   “They’re just my servants,†Dr. Whitewood said. “Pay them no mind.†  Susan stared at the handsome Jaimes   “Perhaps your servant could help me,†she eventually said, still staring at Jaimes. “I have need of some assistance.†  “Well, I don’t think that’s proper for me to leave him with you alone,†Dr. Whitewood said.   She laughed.   “He’s a servant,†she said incredulously.   “Yes,†Jaimes said. “Nonsense. I will see to her.†  “All right,†Dr. Whitewood said.   Ellen smiled at the man.   “If you come with me, I have something that needs moved,†she said, standing up and putting the dress she was working on aside.   “Yes, right away,†Jaimes said.   She led him back the way they came to the garden chamber on the front of the house. It was obviously her bedroom and several windows let in a great deal of light. She closed and locked the door behind her and then tucked the key away. She walked over and got very close to Jaimes, who had noticed the room was fairly clean. He backed away from her.   “Yes, ma’am,†he said.   “Yes?†she said stepping closer.   “So …†  “Yes?†  Every time she said “yes,†she got a little closer to the man.   “What … would you need moved, exactly?†Jaimes said uncomfortably.   “Parts of my body,†she said.   She stepped very close to him.   “Well, I’ll have you know, this is unacceptable behavior for a lady!†Jaimes said, raising his voice.   “No, I’m the aristocracy,†she purred. “It’s fine. This is fine.†  “No!†  “It’s fine.†  A knocking came from the door.   “Miss Loddington,†Dr. Whitewood called from without. “Miss Loddington.†  “Do not speak,†Ellen whispered to Jaimes.   She turned away from him and walked to the door.   “I’m sorry,†she called through the door. “I can’t find the key.†  “Well, I’ll just have to get your mother,†Dr. Whitewood said. “I’m sure she has the key.†  Ellen sighed and rolled her eyes.   “Oh, here it is,†she said.   She took the key out, looked at Jaimes, and batted her eyes. She put the key in the lock and opened the door a crack.   “I’m sorry, this gentleman is trying to help me to move something,†she said to Dr. Whitewood.   “Yes, but I heard your mother calling you,†Dr. Whitewood said. “Maybe you should go attend to that.†  “She’ll be fine,†the girl said. “She should be in the kitchen, fixing dinner.†  Jaimes pushed past the girl.   “This is intolerable!†he said.   “Your man was inappropriate towards me,†Ellen said. “I believe that means that … things have happened in a very short time that will require a priest.†  Jaimes looked at the young woman, aghast.   “I have never!†Jaimes said.   “There was not enough time for that,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “I have never!†Jaimes said. “This isn’t! This …!†  Ellen walked over to Jaimes again and tried to put her arm in his but she grabbed her arm and twisted it. She cried out in pain.   “Francis, I suggest─†Huddleston said.   “If you know … what is best for you …†Jaimes said.   “Oh!†Ellen cried out. “You’re hurting me.†  She lowered her voice so only he could hear.   “But I kind of like it,†she whispered.   He let go of her hand. He looked at the girl and realized she wanted him for more than just sex. He guessed she was actually looking for a man to marry. The girl looked at him somewhat sadly.   “I’m afraid I still need your man,†Ellen said to Dr. Whitewood.   “For what?†Jaimes growled. “Haven’t you gotten it already?†  She looked at him.   “No,†she said. “If you’ll excuse us.†  “I’m sure it’s almost time for supper,†Dr. Whitewood said. “Come along servants.†  He turned and walked away.   “Yes sir!†Huddleston said, scurrying after him.   As Jaimes turned to follow, she grabbed the man’s arm again.   “Take me away from here,†she said quietly in his ear.   She looked at him pleadingly, let go of his arm and backed to the door of her room, closing it behind her. Jaimes thought on that. Then he hastened to catch the others.   “You may continue,†he said to them. “I will proceed to … show the miss … my violin.†  He turned and started to walk back.   “That’s hardly appropriate, Jaimes!†Dr. Whitewood said to the man.   “Are you sure about this?†Huddleston called after the man. “I mean, you could get in huge trouble.†  Jaimes stopped.   “I assure you, it is not … anything like that,†Jaimes said.   “I can’t prevent your death if the lord wants it,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “If someone catches you, then …†Huddleston said.   Jaimes turned and walked away despite their protests.   “Don’t lose your head,†Huddleston called after him.   They headed off to continue exploring the second floor.   * * *   Jaimes returned to the room, opening the door. He was relieved to see Ellen was clothed, sitting quietly in her bed almost as if she had expected him to come back. He sat on a stool not close to the bed and looked at the girl, who stared back at him.   “I apologize for my accusations against you,†she said. “But you seemed to be a man of the world who can take me away from here. And I need a husband.†  “I apologize for twisting your arm,†he replied. “I keep to myself and I don’t typically enjoy the company of others.†  “I can make my company very enjoyable.†  “You appear … as if you know more than what you let on.†  “I want to be out of this house.†  “Why?†  “Because I hate it here.†  Jaimes remembered that Ellen was not in the portrait in the Hall below.   “Why aren’t you in the portrait in the hall?†he asked.   “I wouldn’t sit,†she said. “I wouldn’t sit with this family. I won’t sit with that man. My mother. My father. These … pigs who call themselves my brothers. I want out of this house. I can make it worth your while. I’m rich.†  “I have no need for money.†  “Everyone needs money. I can please you. I know what a man wants and a I know what a man needs.†  “As you may have already guessed, that is not my interest. I want to know about you and why─†  “You’re interested in men then? You like the boys?†  “That is not any of your concern.†  “It is! Because if you’re a man who’s a man, you would take me away from here and I can give you a title.†  “That is not what I want and you shall not get it from me. Now what I need is information. I came here for one thing and one thing only which is to find this man who owes me sixpence.†  “Who is this man?†  “A Mister Clancy Bottom.†  “He was here some nights ago.†  “What do you know of him?†  “He’s gone. He left. He fled.†  “Fled?†  “He fled from me.†  “Why I don’t doubt that.†  “Am I not attractive? Am I not pleasing to the eye?†  “That is not the point here.†  “It is!†  “You can’t seduce men in such a way.†  “I have before. And now they’re gone. They’re always gone.†  “Well, you shall not any longer, especially not with me.†  “This Clancy Bottom: ‘I have a wife.’†  She sighed.   “He left,†she said. “You would have to ask my father for anything more. I don’t know anything more. He fled in the night. Smart one. Those that don’t flee, sometimes never leave.†  “And what would you mean by that?†he asked.   She stood up from the bed and walked to the man, who didn’t move. She leaned forward and whispered in his ear:   “Don’t eat the meat.†  Then she stood up straight, looking sadly down at him a moment.   “You may go,†she said coldly.   She walked over to the vanity with the mirror, sat down on the stool there, and started brushing her hair with a silver brush.   “Noted,†he said.   He didn’t notice the girl watching him in the mirror as he left.   * * *   Hawksworth and Godfrey found what they assumed was the kitchen. At least it was the direction Lord Loddington had disappeared to. It was locked, as were the surrounding chambers. They explored other parts of the ground floor. They found their way, eventually, to the chapel. It was dirty and dusty as if it hadn’t been used for years and, as they crossed to the altar near the front, they left tracks in the dust. They guessed no one had been in the room for at least a decade.   “Not very religious, eh?†Hawksworth said.   They noticed outbuildings and a neglected orchard behind the house.   They returned to the kitchen and Hawksworth put his ear to the door in an attempt to hear what Lord Loddington was up to. He thought he heard a man grunting and groaning painfully within. He went white.   “What’s wrong, man?†Godfrey asked.   “He’s killing a person in there!†Hawksworth whispered.   “What?†Godfrey said. “What!?!†  He pushed Hawksworth aside and put his own ear to the door. He was unable to hear anything himself aside from garbled noises.   “Do you hear a man being killed in there?†Hawksworth asked.   “I just hear normal noises,†Godfrey said. “Hawksworth, are you sure you─†  “What are normal noises?†  “Normal kitchen sounds. I don’t hear screaming. I don’t know. Do you usually scream when you’re cooking your dinner?†  “Get out of the way!†  Hawksworth pushed Godfrey aside and put his ear to the door once again. He couldn’t hear the groaning but heard a hacking noise as if someone were cutting meat.   “Well, he’s dead by now,†Hawksworth whispered to the man. “I was listening when he did the killing blow! I heard the gurgle. Well, now, then you started listening after the gurgle and I came back after the gurgle and now the man is dead. But I heard the initial ‘Oh, please help me!’ I heard that!†  “You didn’t say that before!†Godfrey whispered to him.   “Of course I didn’t. Because … I wanted you to hear it with your own ears, of course. Godfrey, just go in there and say ‘I’m hungry. I need something right now,’ and take a look.†  “I don’t want him to cook me next, if that’s the case.†  There was a click as the door was unlocked and then opened. Lord Loddington came out and stopped to stare at the two men standing there. He pulled the door closed behind him as Hawksworth tried to look around the man but stumbled and fell to the ground.   “I’m sorry,†Hawksworth said. “I’m so hungry.†  “Yes,†Lord Loddington said.   He reached back and locked the door behind him.   “I’ve prepared the hog,†he said when he turned back to them. “I’ll fetch my wife to cook it.†  “How many pounds was it?†Hawksworth said.   “Enough,†Lord Loddington said. “Why are you speaking?†  He slapped Hawksworth squarely in the face. The man let out a shout of pain.   “I’m sorry,†Hawksworth called. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!†  “I didn’t say you could speak!†Lord Loddington said.   He slapped the man in the face again.   “Your servant is quite …†He said.   “Oh, I know,†Godfrey said. “I’ve been meaning to …†  But Lord Loddington had walked away, leaving them. Once he was gone, Godfrey peered through the keyhole. He saw a kitchen beyond and could see a cutting table with meat upon it.   “Let’s wait by the kitchen door and see if we can take another look when the wife comes back,†Hawksworth said to Godfrey. “Or, why don’t you offer I help her with the cooking as a good servant would do?†  “Good idea,†Godfrey said.   * * *

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Supped Full with Horrors Part 3 - A Strange Meal and a Ruined Church

* * *   Jaimes found Dr. Whitewood and Huddleston a short time later.   “I hope you set her right, Jaimes,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Yes,†the other man replied. “And luckily I did not have to show her my violin.†  Dr. Whitewood’s eyebrows rose up.   “Despite her earlier demeanor, I sensed something off,†Jaimes said. “As you know, I went and spoke with her. She doesn’t seem to like it here. And a curious thing. She isn’t seen in the painting. But she told me that she didn’t want to sit for it because she calls her family here, she thinks of them as the same as pigs. Not that I wouldn’t blame her. She also relayed to me, and like I said I’m not very fond of her earlier demeanor, but she has let me know to not consume the meat.†  “Okay,†Huddleston said. “Did she tell you anything about anything else?†  “She didn’t. She did not seem to want to talk anymore. Make of that what you will but something isn’t right.†  “Well,†Dr. Whitewood said. “That much is obvious.†  “Well,†Huddleston said. “She’s part of a noble family that appears to be dying. Maybe she’s just upset that the family fortune is being lost.†  “I’m not sure she’s after the money,†Jaimes said. “I’m not sure she really cares.†  “I think we should find our other companions,†Dr. Whitewood said.   * * *   Lady Susan Loddington soon arrived at the kitchen door where Hawksworth and Godfrey waited. She seemed a little taken aback to see people there, stopping for just a moment before she continued towards the doorway.   “More friends of my husband, I see,†she said.   “Yes ma’am,†Godfrey said. “I see you have met our companions already.†  “Unfortunately.†  “Yes, I do apologize for their behavior. Their manners are lacking at times.†  “Indeed.†  “I would hope I─†  “Our servants have left us as we have fallen upon hard times. My husband says … Mr. Godfrey?†  â

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Supped Full with Horrors Part 4 - Return to the Globe

* * *  
On Monday, June 28, 1613, Clancy Bottom was dressed down for his absence over the last few days. Hawksworth noticed but didn’t talk to the man.   The day saw the terribly complex tragedy Foreigners and Dogs shown at the Globe. By Roland Ashby, the play was about a plot to unseat the Holy Roman Emperor by leveraging his family and friends, referred to as “foreigners and dogs all.†In the end, the plot succeeded but the resulting destabilization of Europe also doomed England. A typical tragedy of the time, practically everyone died in the end. Hawksworth played several different characters, including the Holy Roman Emperor, Matthias, most of whom died. Roland Jay also played several characters who died tragic and terrible deaths, often to the great satisfaction of the audience. The plot was, unfortunately, very convoluted though, and the audience had trouble following it.   Dr. Whitewood and his wife Abigail came to see the play. Abigail loved it. When the King of England, James I, died trying to save the country in a terrible revolt of the masses at the end, she loved it and was entranced throughout the show. It was a little disturbing how much she enjoyed the deaths that played out. When Hawksworth died as Matthias, the Holy Roman Emperor, she gasped and looked quite shaken.   “He didn’t die for real, dear,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “I know!†she said, smacking the man in the arm. “Don’t spoil it for me! Thank you so much for bringing me.†  She wanted to talk to Mr. Hawksworth afterwards.   Peter Godfrey also went to the show and stayed awake for it. He left directly after the show.  
* * *  
After the show, Hawksworth approached Jaimes, who seemed to be in a good mood.   “Yes, Hawksworth,†Jaimes said to the man.   “Where in God’s breath did you fine Clancy Bottom?†Hawksworth said. “I thought for certain he was dead and you all brought him back to the living. Well done.†  Jaimes opened his mouth to answer.   “Before you say anything,†Hawksworth went on. “Well done. Regardless of what you had to go through, what you had to do, well done.†  “Flattery will get you nowhere,†Jaimes said coldly. “You had the chance to a be a hero.†  “I did. I’m a hero in fiction, not in reality.†  “But is that all?†  “Yes! It is all of my being. That is all that I am.†  “A shame.†  “Perhaps. Perhaps there wasn’t someone in danger that I cared about enough. Regardless. Please fill me in. What happened?†  “Wouldn’t you like to know.†  “Mr. Hawksworth!†a woman called. “Mr. Hawksworth! You did a wonderful job!†  It was Abigail Whitewood, accompanied by her husband.   “Oh,†Hawksworth said.   “Oh my dear, when you died I thought you were really dead for a moment,†Abigail said.   Jaimes just giggled and walked away.   Abigail fawned over Hawksworth, having been very impressed with his death scene.   “Why, Roland Jay has nothing on you, I dare say,†she said.   “He never did,†Hawksworth said.   She chatted with the woman for a little while until Dr. Whitewood took the very happy woman home.  
* * *  
Hawksworth approached Huddleston after that.   “Where in God’s breath did you find Clancy Bottom?†he asked the stage hand, much as he had asked the musician earlier.   “Well, Mr. Hawksworth, we found him in that abandoned church that you refused to go to with us,†Huddleston said.   “I sure did.†  “He was fine. He was a little bit shaken.†  “I’m surprised you all did not die over there.†  “No. There was very little danger to us at all, although … you know what? I’m not going to get into that.†  “Hm.†  “Huddleston, there are you are!†Clancy Bottom said, approaching the two. “I wanted to show you. I wanted to show you the things I told you of.†  “Oh,†Huddleston said. “Right.†  “Where’s Jaimes?†  “All right. I’ll come with you. Hawksworth, I’ll have to put off his conversation until later.†  “Uh … what?†Hawksworth said.   “Would you like to come with us?†Huddleston said. “It’s about what we saw last night.†  “Shouldn’t we keep this among as few people as possible?†Bottom said.   “In that case, we’ll talk later,†Huddleston said. “See you, Mr. Hawksworth.†  “What is going on?†Hawksworth said.   “Um … nothing, Mr. Hawksworth,†Bottom said.   Huddleston walked off. Bottom made ready to follow.   “I was looking for you,†Hawksworth said to him.   “What?†Bottom said. He called after Huddleston. “Mr. Hawksworth was looking for me too?†  “At one point,†Hawksworth said.   “Uh … yes, but he didn’t come at the end,†Huddleston said.   “Oh,†Bottom said.   He lowered his voice.   “Does he know what’s happening?†he asked.   “No, he doesn’t,†Huddleston said.   “Oh,†Bottom said. “It’s very nice to talk to you, Mr. Hawksworth.†  The two men left the actor standing there, befuddled.  
* * *  
Bottom showed Huddleston and Jaimes the numerous signs and sigils secreted about the theater. They were everywhere. They were out in the house. They were backstage. They were on props and flats. They were under props and flats. There were hundreds of them. They were always tucked in places one wouldn’t notice. One was carved under the step of a staircase. Another was carved on the bottom of a railing. Clancy told them he had stumbled across a few and then realized how many of them there were about the theater. After he had found some, he started to make an actual search of them. They were everywhere.   They realized it had not been done over the course of a week or so. The sheer number of the things seemed to indicate someone had been putting them all about the Globe for months, if not years. They seemed to be everywhere.   “Clearly all of this sigils are needed to perform whatever or spell or ritual or whatever these people are planning,†Huddleston said.   “But look, some of them are duplicates,†Bottom pointed out. “They’re the same as others elsewhere.†  “Well, the alternative option is to figure out who’s been carving them. Make sure they can’t do anything.†  “It would take someone of much more intelligence than I to figure that out.†  “All right, well … it’s taken about a year. Anyone who’s been here over a year would be a suspect, which is …†  “Everyone? I’ve been here over a year.†  “… which is basically everyone.†  Huddleston thought upon it.   “Anyone act suspicious to you recently?†he asked.   “No,†Bottom said.   “Maybe whoever is doing it is someone who recently came here,†Huddleston said.   There was no one who had only been working at the theater for a year or so.   Huddleston told Bottom he would do his best to figure it out. Bottom said he put his entire faith and hope in Huddleston that the witchcraft could be stopped.   “You’re much more intelligent than me, Huddleston,†Bottom said. “I’m sure that you could figure this out.†  He clapped the man on the shoulder.   “I know you can save us all from whatever terror is going to happen,†he said.   “Thank you,†Huddleston said.   He found Hawksworth.   “So, Hawksworth,†he said when he found the actor. “You wanted to know what was happening in the church.†  “I did,†Hawksworth said.   Huddleston told him the entire story of Clancy Bottom.   “Wait a second,†Huddleston suddenly said. “Isley told Bottom to go to the Mermaid. Bottom went there and, by pure coincidence he just happened to meet Loddington. What if Isley is somehow behind this?†  Then he remembered talking to Isley a few days before. When he had asked the man about Clancy, Isley had made no mention of sending Clancy to the Mermaid. That conflicted with what Clancy told him.   “So, either Isley’s lying or Bottom is lying,†Huddleston said.   Unfortunately, it was late afternoon before he had come upon that revelation. They soon learned Isley had already left the theater. Huddleston asked Hawksworth if he could take him to Dr. Whitewood and to Mr. Godfrey.   “I’ll take you to Whitewood and Whitewood will take you to Godfrey,†Hawksworth said.   Huddleston sought out Jaimes.   “Jaimes!†he said, catching the man before he left the theater.   “Yes?†Jaimes said.   “I am going to the Whitewoods to explain to Mr. Whitewood what’s been going on with all this,†Huddleston said. “Would you like to come?†  “I see,†Jaimes said. “Yes. I shall accompany you.†  Abigail greeted the three at the front door in wonderful spirits.   “Mr. Hawksworth and his friends!†she giggled. “Come in! Come in! Mr. Godfrey is here and I am sure they would like to have your for supper. Come in! Come in!† 
* * *  
Dr. Whitewood had a very intimate and wonderful afternoon with his plump wife, who was ever so appreciative of the play he had taken her to. He had invited Godfrey over for dinner that night and the two of them were drinking after the meal when Abigail escorted in the other three men and seated them. She left as Dr. Whitewood offered for the three to help themselves of the remaining food on the table. There was mutton, cheese, bread, and wine.   Hawksworth stabbed a bit of meat on his knife and then looked at Dr. Whitewood as if wondering about what kind of meat it was. Then he shook his head, figuring he was safe there and ate some.   “Thank you very much for the meal, Mr. Whitewood,†Huddleston said after they ate.   “Agreed,†Hawksworth said.   “You’re welcome,†Dr. Whitewood said. “Good play today. Good day.†  “Yes, I very much appreciate it,†Jaimes said of the food.   “Not my best,†Hawksworth said.   “You’re getting there though,†Dr. Whitewood said to him. “You’ll be great every time. I can feel it.†  “I can’t help it if the writers write shite,†Hawksworth said.   “That’s where it is!†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Well,†Huddleston said. “We have some information about what happened last night.†  He told them everything about what had happened at the church and about Isley and Clancy’s stories conflicting.   “I think that Isley might have something to do with it,†he said at the end.   “Which one is Isley?†Dr. Whitewood said.   Huddleston told him Isley was one of the stage hands. He was Irish and a carpenter who had worked at the Globe for some time. He was a greasy man with blonde hair and a beard. Dr. Whitewood remembered seeing the man moving set pieces and acting in small parts.   “Don’t trust the Scots!†Hawksworth said, helping himself to some more wine.   “Okay,†Huddleston said. “I think he might have something to do with it. He was a little cryptic whenever I asked him about Bottom the other day. And I recently heard from Bottom that Isley was the one who told him to go to the Mermaid in the first place, which is where he met Loddington. And … well … we all know what Loddington and company’s issue is. So, what if Isley … what if Bottom … Bottom’s not smart enough to figure something like that out, but what if Isley was scared that he was so he sent Loddington after Bottom to get him out of the way, which does lead to the question of how would Isley know Loddington.†  “That’s a lot of conjecture,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Can I also say that I think it’s pretty interesting that the person you think is at the middle of all this is a carpenter and there are hundreds of signs around the Globe,†Hawksworth said. “So, who better to do that than a carpenter himself.†  “So …†Huddleston said.   “So … what?†Dr. Whitewood said.   “I’m thinking we should probably try to investigate Isley,†Huddleston said.   “Sounds good,†Dr. Whitewood said.   They soon realized no one knew where Isley lived in London. However, they realized he would be at the theater the next day. Dr. Whitewood said they could follow the man from there. Dr. Whitewood and Godfrey planned to be at the Globe the next day for the play. Hawksworth told them it was the third showing of All is True by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. The historical play was about Henry VIII and filled with pageantry and even cannon fired to announce the King entering a masquerade. It had been very popular and loved by everyone. He pointed out he was playing Henry VIII.   They parted, everyone going to their respective homes.  
* * *  
It was very hot on Tuesday, June 29, 1613. The morning was filled with rehearsals for other shows. All is True was set to start around one o’clock, just after lunch. They all saw Isley there, as usual, backstage. Only Hawksworth noticed Isley seemed expectant and in a very good mood. There was a bounce in his step as he prepared various set pieces. He smiled at everyone and simply seemed to be very happy. Hawksworth was unnerved by that, remembering the play The Pirates of Candle Cove 13 years before and wondering if this was somehow connected to that. He wondered if Isley wanted the play to happen much in the way Machel had wanted The Pirates of Candle Cove to be done.   Huddleston talked to Isley before the show as the latter fiddled with some of the costumes. Isley was whistling.   “Isley, do you need any help?†Huddleston asked him.   “What?†the man replied.   “Do you need any help?†  “Oh no. No no. Everythin’s fine! Oh no. It’s great! It’s gonna be a wonderful day, I tell y’ what, Huddleston. I understand y’ helped find Bottom. Good job, Huddleston.†  “Well─†  “What else did y’ find out?†  “Um … nothing much, sir.†  “I’m glad y’ found ‘im, he’s a good man. He sticks his nose in where it’s no’ wanted sometimes, but sometimes it doesna matter when people interfere, does it? I’ve got to go over here and move this set piece, but if y’ wan’ t’ talk anymore, y’ just let me know. Y’ let me know!†  He gave Huddleston a friendly punch on the shoulder and walked away.   “Thank you, Isley,†Huddleston said. “I’m glad to have Mr. Bottom back too.†  He had never seen Isley in such a happy mood.   “He’s a good friend,†Huddleston called.   “Me too!†Isley called. “Talk to me after the show starts. Can’t wait! Can’t wait! I love the show.†  Huddleston remembered Isley was not as excited in the first or second showing of the play.   “He said that Bottom ‘stuck his nose in where he shouldn’t have,’ Huddleston said to himself.   Hawksworth was close enough to overheard the stage hand talking to himself.   “Right,†he muttered to himself.   “Which makes me think that he had figured out that Bottom was looking at all these symbols and … well …†Huddleston mumbled.   Hawksworth, nearby, nodded.   “And he’s really excited about the play to start,†Huddleston said to himself. “Which means that something is going to happen during the play. He’s normally never this excited at the start of a play. And … so, something bad is going to happen at the start of the play and he knew that Bottom knows, so he tried to get rid of Bottom and …†  “Five minutes,†someone called backstage. “Five minutes everyone.†  Hawksworth walked off.   Huddleston could hear the murmur of people out in the house.   “I need to let someone know about this!†Huddleston said. “I need to tell Jaimes!†  He found the musician and told him everything he’d figured out.   “Blimey!†Jaimes muttered. “I don’t even know where to begin. Really?†  “If I’m correct then yes,†Huddleston said.   “I did see that he was acting a bit more chipper than usual.†  “Yeah, he’s never this happy. None of the stage hands are. Well, except Bottom.†  “What are we to do? The play must continue. The show must go on.†  “Obviously, we can’t stop the show. We just need to stop Isley from whatever he’s up to.†  Nearby, Edward Unton, one of the tiremen helped Hawksworth with his costume for King Henry VIII.   “Even if we somehow manage to get Isley out of the building, what’s to say something hasn’t already been set aside to happen without him?†Jaimes said.   “If something’s going to happen when the play starts, that means we would need to stop the play,†Huddleston said. “But we can’t just stop the play for … wait! Who would be in charge of the play? Hawksworth would! If we can get Hawksworth to delay things, then we can figure out a way to stop Isley.†  “Are you sure about that? He’s a tough bugger to persuade.†  “Hawksworth won’t be easily convinced but … it’s possible. I don’t know. But I think it might be the only way to figure out who is behind this.†  “Places everyone!†someone called backstage. “Places!†  “Even though I’m sure it’s Isley at this point,†Huddleston said. “Hurry, we have to get Hawksworth! There’s little time!†  “Do you know where Isley is, though?†Jaimes said.   They looked around and finally found Isley doing the work he was supposed to do at the start of the play. They went in search of Hawksworth.  
* * *  
Both Dr. Whitewood and Godfrey came to the show, sitting on the second floor of the theater. They looked forward to the well-received history. Dr. Whitewood had not brought his wife as she sometimes enjoyed the histories and sometimes did not.   The people in the pit were getting anxious, beating on the front of the stage and calling for the show to start.   “Ruffians,†Dr. Whitewood said.   The man next to him, a handsome man with light brown goatee and mustache, leaned over to him.   “Oh, I daresay,†he said. “I’ve heard such good things about this play.†  He wore fine clothing and a wide ruff.   “This is a very good play,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Sir Henry Wotton,†the other man said, shaking his hand.   “Ah.†  “Yes. Ambassador. I’m looking forward to this one. It sounds like a good one.† 
* * *  
Huddleston and Jaimes found Hawksworth backstage as the play began. He didn’t have his entrance until midway through the first act. Hawksworth looked upward and at an angle, his shoulders back, and staring at a point on the wall. He had been given some padding to give him the Henry VIII bulk and he wore a floppy hat. He also wore a cape with fur lining.   Act I had started. On the stage, the English court was abuzz with news from the Field of Cloth of Gold, which was a spectacular peace conference between England and France.   “Hawksworth,†Jaimes said. “Hear us out now.†  “I’m not Hawksworth,†the actor replied. “I’m King Henry VIII.†  “King Henry VIII, hear us out now,†Huddleston said.   Hawksworth looked down his nose at the man.   “What do you have to say, peasant?†he said.   “Me and John think Isley─†Jaimes started.   “Isley tried to get rid of Bottom,†Huddleston said.   “He’s planning something!†  “He’s planning something and it’s going to start when you come out!†  “Bottom is no longer in the clutches of Lord Loddington,†Hawksworth said.   “But haven’t you seen how Isley’s been acting?†Jaimes said. “It’s very strange.†  “This is the third performance of this play!†Hawksworth said. “This either becomes popular or it fails here. If we succeed on the third performance, it is a success and it will show for ages!†  “You’re not listening!†Jaimes said.   “And if everyone dies, then it will be remembered as the play where everyone in the audience died because an evil death spell was─†Huddleston said.   “This is not The Pirates of Candle Cove!†Hawksworth said. “This is not an evil play. This is a play of one of the greatest kings of all of Britain: King Henry VIII.†  “You can’t go on!†Huddleston said.   “Which I’m playing.†  “You can’t go out there! Something is going to happen.†  “Y’re doin’ a grea’ job, Hawksworth,†a voice came from behind the actor.   Dennis Isley had crept up on them as they spoke. Huddleston went pale.   “You’re gonna do a wonderful job, Mr. Hawksworth,†Isley said.   “I’m going to make a classic,†Hawksworth said. “A classic.†  “Aye, it’ll be a classic, tha’s right. But it’ll be a classic for more than y’ think. For, y’ see, your friend ha’ found me out. I am much more than I seem for y’ behold not just a stage hand bu’ a sorcerer. Aye, tha’s right. The spell is set and canna be stopped. By the end of All is True, all shall be true and we will have a new Queen o’ England, or should I say an old queen of England.   “Elizabeth shall live again.   “I have long been a learned man though was taught the trade of a carpenter by m’ father. I learned o’ things esoteric and strange. When Elizabeth died 10 years ago, she left th’ country in turmoil and then tha’ fraud James VI … a Stuart. He became king. Of all th’ indignity. It is so appropriate tha’ a play about Henry VIII, his great-great-grandfather, shall see his loss of the throne of England! The pig! M’ mother died due t’ his accusations o’ witchcraft when he was King o’ Scotland! How apropos tha’ one using witchcraft will unseat him.   “The spell is already set and it canna be undone. By the time the play is over, the mood o’ those watchin’ will be enough to set it into motion and Elizabeth will live again, drawn from the ether and present on the stage. The play astounds and enlightens, nay, even causes its watchers t’ rejoice! These feelings power the spell and will power Elizabeth when she returns.   “But think not o’ stopping the show now. Anger might also fuel the magic, if you are no’ careful. And endin’ the play prematurely or in such a way as to upset the audience overmuch will work the magic much the same. Yet then, Elizabeth will be vengeful and, as her regent and her court sorcerer, I will see that she has vengeance upon y’ once all is done.   “There’s no way to stop this. The entire Globe is a summoning circle for the spell. There’s nothing y’ can do.   “So, see the play through. Finish it. Make it as much an inspiration as it has been thus far and y’ will see Elizabeth on the throne once again. There will be no fear in England ever again!†  He patted Hawksworth on the back.   “You’re mad!†Jaimes said.   “No,†Isley said. “I see. Now, I’ve got t’ go move a set piece.†  “Even if─!†Huddleston said.   But it was too late. The man had walked away.   “Elizabeth returning as Queen of England would be the greatest thing that ever happened,†Hawksworth said. “And if I can be a part of that, then I shall be.†  Huddleston and Hawksworth realized, however, that if the spell worked, whatever came back might be controlled by something from outside.   “Even if having her back would be a good thing, if she’s controlled by something else, then …†Huddleston said.   “It’s completely insane!†Jaimes said.   “You know what?†Huddleston said. “You’re right. It’s complete … it’s daft. Isley doesn’t know what he’s thinking!†  “Through the entire of my career at the Globe, I have only failed one play,†Hawksworth said. “That was The Pirates of Candle Cove which, I believed with the help of Stubb and Massingberd, they convinced me to throw the play. I was ashamed. I was belittled. And I will never do that again. Regardless of the outcome of this play, I will play Henry VIII to his fullest potential. If you want to throw the damned play, do it. I will not be a part of it.†  He walked away.   “We need to get Godfrey and Whitewood,†Huddleston said to Jaimes.   “I’m not sure what we can do at this point, but we can’t … we can’t leave them in the dark,†Jaimes said.   “Yes, we have to talk to them,†Huddleston said. “Do you think you can go up front and get them?†  “Yes,†Jaimes said. “Yes.†  Jaimes made his way out into the house.  
* * *  
Dr. Whitewood was enjoying the play along with Godfrey and Sir Wotton when Jaimes approached them. Jaimes started to tell Dr. Whitewood what was happening but was shushed by the people around them.   “We’re trying to watch the play!†someone said.   Jaimes glared at the man. He started to speak again and was shushed again.   “Would you please keep it down?†another man said.   “We have to get out of here!†Jaimes said to Dr. Whitewood. “I’ll explain later but we need to get out.†  The three of them left the second floor, exiting the building as Jaimes told them what they had learned. They entered the theater from the back and found Huddleston near the door. There was still a few minutes until Henry VIII entered.   “So, the symbols are the spell,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “Yes,†Huddleston said.   “And the symbols are all around the theater.†  “Yes.†  “Is there a way to destroy the symbols?†  “Isley has let us know that there’s no way to possibly stop this from happening,†Jaimes said.   “There’s hundreds of these symbols,†Huddleston said. “Even if we manage to destroy some of them, who knows if that would actually stop the spell or if that would just be some form of malformed version of the spell that would turn out even worse?†  “So, you’re saying we have to take care of all of them,†Dr. Whitewood said. “In five minutes.†  “The only way we have of doing that is burning this entire place to the ground,†Huddleston said   “Out of the way,†Edward Unton said as he passed by them. “Out of the way. Out of the way.†  He and Richard Steward were carrying the fire rack towards the back doors. The device was a rack of small cuplike containers used to hold black powder and wadding. When each was lit, they created a small explosion. It was most often used for battle scenes and the like. In the case of All is True, they were fired off when King Henry VIII entered the stage in the first act. The two men headed outside with the device.   “Sorry,†Steward said. “Sorry. Sorry.†  Huddleston and Jaimes remembered they’d been told to place it further from the theater than usual so as not to start a fire in the dry conditions that had beset London for the last few weeks.   “If we do that, who knows how many people would escape,†Huddleston said, watching the men go out. “It would mean the end of our jobs, probably.†  “There were plays before the theater,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “But if we do nothing then that means, this entire country could fall victim to some sort of malformed … something picking over our country,†Huddleston went on.   Dr. Whitewood looked up at the thatch roof of the place.   “I get the feeling we’re just going to have to burn this whole place to the ground,†Huddleston went on. “But I’m not sure if I want to.†  “The theater can always be rebuilt,†Dr. Whitewood said.   “The theater can be rebuilt, but if people die … it’s not like we can bring them back to life. Or, well, I suppose we could but it would be breaking all of the laws of everything.†  “Well, we don’t have much time. So, how do we do it?†  “So, you think we should just burn this place to the ground? Save who we can? Try to keep the spell from happening?†  “We don’t have a choice!†Jaimes said.   “But how?†Dr. Whitewood said. “We need the how! What were those fellows doing with that rack?†  Huddleston explained it to him while Jaimes urged them to do something quickly.   “If we were somehow able to get it closer, we could set the whole place on fire,†Huddleston said.   “Let’s do it,†Dr. Whitewood said.   Whitewood and Godfrey left the theater, Huddleston and Jaimes quickly getting Clancy, and saw where Unton had positioned the firing rack. They had moved it far enough away from the theater to make sure the thatch was not set on fire. Unton was listening for their cue.   “Stop what you’re doing!†Dr. Whitewood said to Unton.   The man shushed him, still trying to hear what was going on within the theater.   “Unton, Bottom and I came out here to let you know Hawksworth has a new command for you,†Huddleston said.   “What?†Unton said. “What’re you talkin’ about?†  “Hawksworth told me this. He wants you to put the cannons a little bit closer.†  “No no no. That’s against the rules.†  Jaimes moved to Unton and took a swing at him.   “What!?!†Unton said, dropping the match. “What is wrong with you!?! What is wrong with you, Jaimes? I’ve got to fire these things in just a few seconds.†  “We don’t have time!†Jaimes said to the man. “You don’t understand what is going on! You don’t understand what is at stake here!†  “Yeah! You’re going to ruin the play! The explosions are great!†  “It’s more than just the play!†  Unton reached for the match but Jaimes blocked the man. Dr. Whitewood grabbed the rig and moved it closer to the theater to a position that would aim right up into the thatch.   “Wait!†Unton said. “Who the hell are you!?!†  Godfrey took out a pouch full of coins.   “Just take a break,†he told Unton. “Go to a pub nearby. You saw none of this.†  The man looked at the heavy bag of money.   “Okay,†he said.   He took the bag and walked away.   They heard the cue inside come and go and then the actors on the stage started blatantly talking about how the king would be there soon.   “Bottom!†Huddleston said. “Light these! Now!†  “All right,†Bottom said. “All right!†  He picked up the match and lit all three of the cups on the rack.   “They’re not going off─†he started to say   The explosives fired, one after another, startling him badly. Inside, they heard the audience cheering as Henry VIII came onto the stage and the play continued.   Nothing else apparently happened. Clancy thanked them for letting him fire the rack and then went back in.   Huddleston realized if the sparks fired into the thatch, it could be a while before it actually caught. Dr. Whitewood started to gather things that would burn backstage.   Huddleston told Bottom of everything that was happening with Isley and that seemed to disturb the man greatly. When he asked how to stop it, they told him they were trying to light the theater on fire. He didn’t seem to like that either. Huddleston tried to get Bottom out of the theater but he told him all of the things he was supposed to be doing for the play.   “We put the cannons really close to the theater,†Huddleston told Bottom. “There’s a chance that it might have set the roof on fire.†  “Oh!†Bottom said. “I get it. Did it work?†  “I don’t know. I don’t know. I think we need to go out and check.†  “I’ll go check!†  Bottom ran out to look and immediately came back in.   “I don’t see any smoke,†he said. “I don’t see any fire.† 
* * *  
When Jaimes returned to the stage, late, to play as part of the musicians at the masquerade in the first act, he noticed a little bit of smoke near the top of the theater. It wasn’t enough that anyone else would even notice it unless they were looking for it.  
* * *  
It was not until Act III of the play they noticed a haze in the theater. The audience didn’t. They probably thought it was just idle smoke. However, in the middle of Act III, the smoldering thatch burst into flames around the roof. Hawksworth was giving a speech and saw it, but just continued. The other actors fled.   The audience panicked, fleeing to various exits. Bits of burning thatch floated down as the rafters near the top caught fire. One man’s breeches were set on fire but he put it out with a bottle of ale and ran away. There was a great deal of screaming and terror as the playgoers, actors and stage hands fled from the terrible scene.   Backstage, Huddleston grabbed Bottom to flee but Bottom refused to leave, helping other panicked actors and stage people escape. Godfrey fled, leaving the burning building.   Hawksworth remained on the stage, acting, apparently oblivious to everything going on.   Dr. Whitewood ran to Hawksworth who seemed to be waiting for his next line. He recognized the man and saw the Globe was on fire but continued his lines. Dr. Whitewood ripped his cape and hat off. Hawksworth finished his speech and stood there, waiting for the next line. Dr. Whitewood pulled on him.   “What is it?†Hawksworth whispered. “Did I miss a line?†  Dr. Whitewood slapped the man in the face. Hawksworth repeated his last line.   Dr. Whitewood remembered the next line but realized it didn’t have Hawksworth leaving the stage anytime soon.  
* * *  
Jaimes, in shock as the theater burned all around him, finally came to his senses and fled the theater. He saw Huddleston running out ahead of him. Jaimes noticed Hawksworth and Dr. Whitewood on the stage. He fled.  
* * *  
Dr. Whitewood told Hawksworth his next line was a line in the play of another part that exited directly after he spoke. Hawksworth said the line as he felt he was being prompted, not uncommon even for him. But then he realized it was not his line. Someone was prompting him with the wrong line. But he still said it, and he turned to exit the stage.   As they headed upstage together, Dr. Whitewood took one last look at the burning theater. He saw someone standing center stage amidst lights and sparks. It appeared to be a naked woman, her back to him. Then Isley sprinted onto the stage.   “Queen Elizabeth!†he shouted. “Queen Elizabeth!†  Hawksworth looked around at the figures on the stage.   “That’s not right,†he muttered, looking around. “That’s not right at all. What the hell is going on?†  The woman turned around, eyes closed as Isley reached her. He knelt before her. Hawksworth and Dr. Whitewood recognized the woman from pictures they’d seen. It was a young Queen Elizabeth.   “Your Majesty,†he said. “I’ve brought y’ back to save England! But y’re in danger! Y’ must come with me.†  He held out his hand.   Elizabeth’s eyes opened but there were no eyes there, merely black pits of infinity. She opened her mouth with an inhuman, alien scream and four tentacles burst out of her abdomen and belly. Hawksworth started screaming hysterically. The thing lashed out with the tentacles and two of them grabbed hold of Isley as he screamed in terror as well.   Dr. Whitewood pulled on Hawksworth, dragging the shrieking actor from the theater. Isley struggled against the thing. Hawksworth couldn’t look away, screaming and screaming as he fled. The woman opened from her chin to her crotch and pulled Isley into herself. The man was just gone.   As they rushed towards the exit, Hawksworth shrieking and shrieking and shrieking, the horrible woman on the stage moved towards them, but seemed cowed by the flames all around it. It backed away, the tentacles flailing madly about.   They fled the burning building.   The fire spread quickly and the entirety of the Globe was engulfed and burned to the ground within a few hours. Hawkers sold food and drink to the crowd gathered there to watch it burn. Most of the theater-goers stayed to watch, including Sir Henry Wotton.  
* * *  
There was no real inquiry into the ordeal of the theater burning down. Over the next weeks, the rubble was sorted through in hopes of finding anything that could be recovered. No bodies or bones were found and the assumption was that no one had died in the fire. Hawksworth and Dr. Whitewood did not see the thing that consumed Isley die. They were unsure if it died and burned up in the fire or escaped somehow.   Plans began almost immediately to rebuild the Globe Theater - this time with a slatted roof. By 1614, the building was rebuilt, bigger and better than it was before. Clancy Bottom was part of those who help rebuild the Globe Theater. However, over that year, Bottom was seen less and less of an evening and sometimes for a few days at a time. He grew more and more troubled by what happened at the Globe in 1613.  
* * *  
In the Fall of 1614, Mrs. Bottom came again to the Globe to find her missing husband, who’d been gone for more than a week. She confessed the man left a note, saying he’d gone away to a better life, and a chest filled with ancient Roman coins, jewelry, and other treasures she didn’t know he had, more than enough to see her and her children to a rich, happy life. But she wanted to know what happened to him.   She handed over a note written in his rough hand she said she was supposed to give to whomever had helped him at the Globe. She didn’t understand it at all. It read:   My Dearest Friend,   I cannot but hope this finds you well but after our adventure last year, and the terrors
of it all, I feel I need better know what the world is really all about. I go to join those
whom you first found me with in that churchyard. They have promised me something
different and I find myself quite tempted by it and by the taste that was forced upon me
by the terrible Lord L. I have left Agnus with all she’ll need to have a good life, thanks
to these new friends. They promise to show me wonders like I’ve never seen before and
I fear I must go. Don’t grieve for me. I’ll grieve for you as I am sure I will outlive you …
perhaps forever.   Clancy Bottom  
* * *  
Francis Jaimes had, all his life, been a person who shied away from others. Because of the strange incidents of 1613, he realized people were willing to help one another and look after each other. That inspired the man somewhat. He had a better hope of humanity after that.   John Huddleston, who felt like Clancy Bottom was his best friend in the theater, left the Globe not long after Bottom disappeared. He had a little money saved and so decided to leave England for America in the hopes of making a life for himself there. He was off to the Jamestown Colony.   Vincent Hawksworth didn’t change at all, staying with the troupe at the new Globe Theater.   Peter Godfrey returned to banking.   Dr. Everett Whitewood, somewhat bothered by the thing he had seen in the theater, refused to eat fish and other food from both the sea and the Thames after that.

Max_Writer

Max_Writer

 

The Wisdom of Vampires

"After all, blood is the life force. It reaches into the deepest recesses of both the heart and the brain. It is the familiar of our complete being. To surrender even one drop of it is to suggest a partial surrender of one's utmost self."   - Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows (Episode 245, 1967)

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Poe's Detective

"Poe did not want the detective genre to be a realist genre; he wanted it to be an intellectual genre, a fantastic genre, if you wish, but a fantastic genre of the intellect and not only of the imagination.... He could have placed his crimes and his detective in New York, but then the reader would have been wondering whether the events really took place in that way.... As it turned out, it was easier and more fruitful to Poe's imagination to set it all in Paris, in a desolate portion of the Faubourg St.-Germain."
- Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Memory of the Future

"When [Robert] Graves, in The White Goddess, comes to formulate his theory of poetic composition he connects the creative act with what he calls 'proleptic thought' and 'analeptic thought,' both of which involve 'a suspension of time', and adds, 'one can have memory of the future as well as the past'... the creative act, renewal of the visionary gleam, involves a passive 'lapsing-out' of normal, time-imbued consciousness, and 'memory' takes on an expanded connotation - not just ordinary everyday recall, but a suspended state of rich creative ferment which may involve oracular knowledge of the future..."   - Hugh Underhill, ​The Problem of Consciousness in Modern Poetry (1992)

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Episode 1 of The Space Between

The Space Between

Part I – Hollyweird
Future historians may look back on the morning of April the 8th as a defining moment. It was the moment a small group of professionals discovered a plot to destroy humanity but were able to fight back and triumph. Or perhaps it was the moment our doom was ultimately sealed. Perhaps there will be no future historians.

Three people sat around a coffee table at Schriver Studios. Maria del Ponchard, the co-star of The Space Between. George Williams, consultant and Christopher Rameriz, Security. All three were probably wondering if they were going to get paid.

Four days prior, Verity Harrow, the star of the movie had left the set and promptly disappeared. Rumors abound that she had got cold feet and skipped out on her contract or gone on a drug binge. There was even some talk that perhaps she had eloped with Jared Woodward, the director, as he had been absent for about the same amount of time. Of course, others thought it was something more sinister.
Production had, of course, ground to a halt and most of the crew had given up coming in with only a few hangers on trying to look busy. One of them was Tekroop Singh, the assistant director.
Singh had been filming pick-up shots and trying to keep morale on the movie high for the past couple of days but judging from the yelling coming from the hall he had finally cracked. He stormed into the room, visibly upset and looking for someone to vent at. He settled on the trio.

Tekroop was desperate. Despite the film being clearly incomplete a super-advanced screening was supposed to be held the following evening. Woodward had (apparently) been editing at his home suite for the past few days but was refusing to return to set or answer any reasonable questions on the phone. With little to lose he asked the group if they could try and talk some sense into him. Tekroop also appealed to Maria’s friendship and Christopher’s working relationship with Verity. Perhaps they could check her house? The party agreed with Maria suggesting they visit Verity’s trailer first. They set out.

Verity’s trailer was locked, but Christopher held a copy of the key. The trailer proved clean and unremarkable. Some of Verity’s head-scarves sat atop her dresser. After a cursory examination, the three left.
As George, Christopher and Maria left the trailer a car pulled up in front of them and two uniformed police officers exited. They were accompanied by a grizzled, balding man in his mid-sixties who introduced himself as Detective Samuel Neumeier. The detective announced that a body, or rather, human remains had been found in a storm drain a short distance away and it was a possible match for Ms Harrow. Neumeier made no attempt to disguise his distrust of The Church and demanded he be allowed to search the set. George ‘politely’ pointed out that without a warrant ‘they were going to have none of that, thank you very much’ which sent Neumeier into a rage, claiming that he would bring them all down.
Meanwhile, Maria had noticed one of the other officers looked extremely shaken and slipped away from the others. She found him a short distance away, vomiting noisily. With a reassuring hand on his shoulder he recovered enough to talk. ‘They skinned her, man. There was nothing left but...guts.’ he was able to mutter before heaving again. Neumeier yelled for him to come back and the three officers climbed into the car to find someone with more authority.

Rameriz wanted to see if Singh’s reaction to hearing about the murder was suspicious so the three headed back to the sound stage to give him the bad news.
The director certainly seemed upset by the news but was unprepared to shut down production. Concerned the investigation was a witch hunt he refused to let the officers on site until more evidence came to light. He asked the group to continue their investigation. They climbed into Rameriz’s SUV (with tinted windows and all the optional extras) and departed for Harrow’s apartment.

Christopher arrived at Harrows house in record time with the other two in a mixed state of admiration and terror at his driving. As they pulled into an empty space they noticed another black SUV, this one with Church plates, parked outside. A man sat looking rather nervous in the driver’s seat. The group approached.
Rameriz identified him as another part of Harrow’s security detail, a man name Tyrone Goode. Goode seemed somewhat evasive and confused about his interrogation and seemed somewhat surprised that anyone was worried about Verity at all. He claimed that she had paid him $1000 to drop by her house to pick up some things and that she had been ‘detoxing’ at the Churches celebrity retreat. He’d been waiting here for a while and had no problem with the trio checking in on her themselves. The group approached the front door, a line of police tape lay discarded beside it.

The bodyguards key unlocked the door but privacy chain inside was engaged. As Rameriz attempted to unhook it the door slammed shut. From inside a voice demanded to know what they wanted. Any relief the investigators may have felt was short lived as it was clear something was very wrong with Verity. After some pleas from Maria, Verity opened the door and let the three in.
Verity seemed to have adopted the usual celebrity disguise of dark glasses and a head scarf. She seemed distant and distressed. As she spoke she picked up items that may have held some sentimental value to her and gazed at them distractedly. She assured, halfheartedly, that she was fine and had indeed been detoxing at the celeb retreat under Craig Steel’s direction. She had snuck out to pick up some personal items from her house. After some encouragement, she agreed to accompany the investigators. George and Maria joined Tyrone in one car while Christopher and Verity got in his SUV. They headed to Woodward’s penthouse.

Verity remained completely impassive on the trip. The two vehicles parked. Verity showed no interest in going into the building and Christopher was in no mood to let her out of his site a second time so the two stayed in the SUV while Maria and William went inside.
On the ground floor a concierge named Manny briefly blocked William and Maria from bothering Woodward but he must have been an off day as he got distracted and wandered off before Maria had to resort to dressing as a maid to infiltrate the penthouse. The pair ascended.
Woodward’s pad was a mess. It seemed unlikely it had been ransacked but was certainly apparent the director hadn’t been looking after himself. Drug paraphernalia lay on a coffee table. The investigators turned their attention to the editing suite.

Back in the SUV Verity began sobbing. While Christopher Rameriz may have been highly skilled at taking down enemies, comforting a distressed woman failed to be his strong point. Attempting his best impression of Maria he put a reassuring hand on Verities shoulder and gave her a stoic ‘There There.’ Verity was inconsolable. ‘I didn’t want this.’ she sobbed. ‘They said they could make me Empty, but I didn’t want this!’ Rameriz asked what she meant. Verity removed her sunglasses. Everything changed.

In Woodward’s apartment George and Maria were contemplating the door to the editing suite. A red light blinked ‘In Use’ above the door. Cold radiated off the door and a thin sheen of frost covered it. Maria pushed it open. Beyond lay the void. Nothing. Blackness stretched into infinity, interrupted only by the occasional pinprick of light that under differet circumstances could have been stars. The pair considered the darkness, unsure what to do. They dialed Woodwards number. Distantly inside the room a phone rang. Seconds later Woodwards crazed voice was on the line. ‘She’s real! She wont let me go!’ Woodward screamed. ‘Yvette Sommers is real!’ The line went dead. It took a couple of seconds for Maria and George to put together who Yvette Sommers was. The Space Between had a role that curiously no one knew who was cast as. Crew speculated that Yvette Sommers, the character who teaches Verities character in the ways of emptiness, was also played by Verity or was some sort of CG creation. It became apparent the truth was more sinister. Maria tentatively reached around the inside of the door jamb only to find she couldn’t touch the inside wall. The pair noped out.

Rameriz peered over the top of a dumpster. At the sight of Verity his composure had broken and he had fled from the car. Verity had no eyes. A lack of eyes probably wouldn’t have shocked Rameriz quite so much but within the empty sockets there was nothing. Space. Broken only by pinpricks of light. Steeling himself, Rameriz returned to the actress. ‘They did this to me.’ ‘I agreed but, I..I didn’t know.’ The distraught Verity Harrow told her story.

A devout Church Member Verity had wanted what all Church members wanted, to become Empty, completely free of Woes. When Craig Steel had approached her and told her of the Fast Track program she had agreed. The program was designed to bring Emptyness to an individual without the years of meditation. Even when Steel told her the expense of the process Verity agreed. Her skin would have to be removed. Verity had met with Steel and Woodward and together they had skinned her alive, recording the whole thing. Verity died, but had awoken ‘Empty’. Emptyness was not what had been promised. Verity still regained her memories and feelings but could feel what was left of herself decaying. She knew she didn’t have much time.
Steel and Woodward’s plans didn’t stop there. They believed the footage they had captured could be spliced into ‘The Space Between’ to bring this ‘Emptyness’ to any viewers. At that moment Verity knew of two copies of the film that had received the splicing. One was in Woodward’s possession and a backup was being looked after by Steel, probably in his office at the retreat.

George and Maria had joined Christopher and Verity. While Rameriz had warned of Verities true appearance George and Maria were obviously still horrified. To her credit Maria regained her composure rather quickly. The hardened war veteran however descended into a screaming fit for a short time before pulling himself together.

The group considered the situation. The Church’s influence was wide spread. There was a high chance that the police would be sympathetic to The Church and tip off Steel. Neumeier clearly would help but he hadn’t left a number and was unreachable. One of the film canisters was in Woodwards editing suite. Rameriz opened the boot of his SUV and pulled out a duffle bag. Throwing it open he removed his shotgun.

What is within the darkness of Woodward’s suite? How many have been Emptied? What is really going on at the Celebrity Retreat?

Time is running out….

Onemeantoaster

Onemeantoaster

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Crawling Chaos

(with Winifred Virginia Jackson - based on her dream, text written by Lovecraft)   Pushing straight on, this is a relatively short story, but at the start I'm finding it a really hard read. The text doesn't flow for me, and I need to work hard to read each sentence. To be fair it is describing an opium dream, but I feel that should be more dreamlike, and transporting, rather than hard work to wade through.   But things do improve as the opium dreamer opens their eyes in the dream. The room where they find themselves, full of furnishings and with many windows, is vividly described, and I can picture it as I read.   I do have a problem with the implication in this part, and earlier in the story too, that all opium takers follow a similar route in their dreams, and could potentially reach the same dream destinations, including this one. I just find that really implausible. Probably just me, but each reference to it takes me further out of the story, and means I don't buy in to its central thesis, but rather look from outside, sceptically.   But I do like the vision of a house on a precipice of land, with tumbling cliffs on either side, and the waves attacking. It reminds me of some of Lovecraft's writings of Kingsport. I guess I like sea stories. Oh and did Lovecraft know about coastal erosion? I think he knew the history of English Dunwich, for example.   Why bother to lock the door on fleeing though? It's a nice detail, but seems like a totally useless activity for someone for whom time is of the essence, before the sea gobbles the land underneath their feet. Yes I know it's the dreams of an opium taker, so rationality goes out the window. Ditto for the thought that a certain book would be found back in the dream cottage, if they just turn round and go back there.   The ending is strange. I'm not quite sure what happened there. I guess the Earth is destroyed, and the Moon. The Sun is described as dying, but I don't think it went nova or anything. Bit puzzled. I'd have found it simpler to follow if the narrator on looking back - reminiscent of Lot's wife in the bible - had just fallen back to the dying Earth. So yes, I'm not entirely sure what happened. But I think overall I enjoyed it.

yockenthwaite

yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: Facts concerning the late Arthur Jermyn and his family

I know very little about this story in advance, except that it has a lot of genealogical content in it. I'm expecting dodgy ancestral lines to show up too. I do know that Lovecraft had problematic family history, in terms of mental health, so it will be interesting to see where this story goes with things.   I'm curious about the collection of Wade Jermyn, but wonder how much more extreme it was than other collectors of the time. There was often a tendency for collectors then to collect trophies and specimens that would be abhorred nowadays, and I find it hard to believe that Wade was significantly worse than others in his day. But I do find it plausible that his ravings alarmed others, indeed they're very reminiscent of other Lovecraft stories.   I do like the account of the family history, but then I'm a genealogist, and never object to a story that inspires me to start drawing up a family tree.   The story rambles on too much for me though. The second portion goes on far too long, and needed judicious editing. And it's far too obvious to the reader who was what in the story of the ape goddess.   But worst of all I find the underlying idea of a degenerate line descended from Africa troubling at best, and racist at worst. It disturbs me in ways that are not a good measure of it as a story, and I wouldn't want to reread it. Having said that, the African chief Mwanu is presented with sensitivity and respect. But I still find the story distasteful overall. Even the passing idea of a European being required to find things precisely, when the Africans couldn't pinpoint it, combines with other elements to be objectionable. Just no.

yockenthwaite

yockenthwaite

 

Mythic CoC 02 - It's moving!

At the boarding house, the door was opened by a stolid looking Portuguese woman, a miss Ferreira. While seemingly not thrilled to have a visitor, I noticed her looking more than once at the cat on my shoulder with a soft expression, obviously another feline lover. After our exchange she went to fetch Watson who was fortunately at home and promply returned with a young man. If Jenkins had found him harried, I thought he looked positively haunted. Mrs Ferreira brought us lemonade and retired to the kitchen with my cat in tow.
I quickly explained my business and Watson was positively relieved. At least there would be no problem with acquiring the scrolls, he was a more than willing seller. I also learned that he was a librarian too, working at the public library. He explained to me that he had been plagued by nightmares lately, barely able to sleep at all, and the scrolls seemed to be linked with it. I was naturally excited if a little skeptic of his statement and asked to see the scrolls, to which he readily assented. We got up and climbed the stairs to his rooms.   We were met by a strange sight, Watson's muttering about not remembering to have left the door opened our only advance notice that something was wrong. Inside we found another young man hugging the scroll box to his chest, seemingly in a daze. When challenged by Watson he turned on us and began to shout in a strange language - I caught something like "Ia Ia Nyarlathothep!" amidst the gibberish erupting from his lips - before rushing us. The two of us where easily able to immobilize him especially since in his frenzy of incoherent moves he helped us by knocking himself out by hitting the doorjamb with his head. He was recognized as Stephen Wilkes, a young artist who rented the room next to Charles'.
When he came too, we began to interrogate him. He was very cooperative. In fact he seemed to have suffered from nightmares and a strange compulsion to approriate the scrolls. I proposed to take charge of the scrolls, immediately paying Watson what he wanted for them and invited them to come to my flat later in the afternoon, once I had performed a preliminary inspection of the box's contents. Both readily agreed and after saving my cat from Mrs. Ferreira's attentions, went back home.   During the rest of the afternoon, I studied both the box and the scrolls but couldn't make real progress. While I ascertained its Egyptian origin, I couldn't place the material the box was made of, the only piece of information I could gather came from a hieroglyph I was able to recognize from an entry in one of my Occult books on Egypt : it identified the Dark Pharaoh Nephren-Ka. Beyond this I had nothing to go on. I would have to enlist the help of one of the university professors...

JohnDi

JohnDi

 

Don't be a Philistine: Just Say "No" to Dagon

"Terrestrial devils are those lares, genii, fauns, satyrs, wood-nymphs, foliots, fairies, Robin Goodfellows, trolli, etc., which as they are most conversant with men, so they do them most harm. Some think it was they alone that keep that the heathen people in awe of old, and had so many idols and temples erected to them. Of this range Dagon amongst the Philistines, Bel amongst the Babylonians... Isis and Osiris amongst the Egyptians..."
- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621)

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Mythic CoC - Random Beginnings

A totally random solo game of Call of Cthulhu (started as a Trail game before I switched systems) played with the Mythic Game Master Emulator. Although it is said that good things come to those who wait (maybe terrible things too!), obviously one can't stay at home and hope for threads to come with the mail...   It was a hot summer morning during the year 1922. I was sitting in the study of my flat in Charlotte, North Carolina, drinking coffee while solving a chess problem and listening to the radio. My little gray cat, a faithful companion who accompanies me everywhere - even to work at King’s College where I officiate as a librarian - lay sprawled on the tiled floor, already trying to evade the heat that my old electric fan did little to alleviate.      
I happened to glance at the clock and realized it was already ten o’clock. I teared myself away from the chessboard, turned the radio off and went to the front door to check for the mail. Nothing special, a piece of advertisement, a few bills… Back to the study I switched my attention to the newspaper which had been delivered at the same time. Nothing much of interest here either although I noticed an article by a friend of mine, John Masters.   On a whim I decided to pay a visit to Jenkins’ bookstore, I have a passion for the occult and he always makes sure to stock a few titles for me. Grabbing my hat and whistling to signal the cat to climb on my shoulder, I left the apartment block and boarded the tramway at the stop not fifty meters from my door. The air was stifling despite the early hour and I was glad to alight near my destination. I quickly entered the store, barely glancing at the books displayed behind the gilded windows.   Jenkins got up from behind the counter and came to greet me, earning a hiss from the cat on my shoulder. For whatever reason it never liked Jenkins. I enquired about new arrivals and was denied the joy of a prospective purchase. Here I was, with a few days off from work and nothing to alleviate my boredom…
That is when Jenkins mentioned the young man with a harried face who tried to sell him a box of scrolls which very well could have interested me. I looked very ancient but Jenkins had failed to recognize the language and did not dare purchase without any assurance he could make a profit out of it. Perhaps because of the lack of a better thing to do, my interest was piqued. It did take a few dollars to loosen his tongue, but in the end I left the store with a name and an address. The young man was named Charles Watson and roomed at a boarding house which I knew from my days as a student. I grabbed lunch at a nearby restaurant before heading there...

JohnDi

JohnDi

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