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The Strange Case of the Brown Mountain Lights Session Two Part 3 - Negotiation Breakdown

Max_Writer

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* * *

 

As Miss Fairfield watched, one of the creatures pulled down one of the hanging things above the table and moved it around the top of Rockefeller’s head. There was a lot of blood. Then they roughly pulled the top of the man’s skull off.

 

“What do you mean he’s unharmed!?!†Miss Edington said. “Look what’s you’re doing right here!â€

 

“He’ll be fine,†the thing whispered.

 

“You’re taking his brain out!†she shrieked. “You’re about to put it in that little jar there, aren’t you!?!â€

 

“He is fine,†the thing whispered to her, poking her with the stick. “He will be fine.â€

 

“Why are you poking me with that?†she said.

 

“Shh,†the thing said. “Quiet. You shall see momentarily.â€

 

“He didn’t consent to this,†she muttered.

 

Outside the door, Miss Fairfield put her camera up to the tiny hole and took a photograph.

 

“They seem to be operating on Rockefeller,†she whispered to the other two men. “What should we do?â€

 

Felix looked distressed and Virgil Thomas just shrugged uncertainly.

 

Inside the room, the creatures unceremoniously pulled the brain out of Rockefeller’s head and, without any great tenderness, plopped it into the cylinder on the table. They manipulated the cylinder in some way, producing a grinding noise of some kind, and then took it back to the table where they hooked it up via cables to the strange rig in the back of the room.

 

* * *

 

Rockefeller had been in immense pain when the horrible creatures had operated on him, though he had been unable to move or speak. Everything went black after the pain in his head. When he could see again, his vision was grainy and he could only make out the room in black and white. He seemed to be standing in the corner of the room, two of the horrible creatures beside him, but he couldn’t feel anything whatsoever. He also saw his body lying on the table in the center of the room.

 

* * *

 

“Can you hear us?†one of the things said to the strange rig.

 

“Yes,†a cold, unemotional voice replied. “Yes, I can.â€

 

“Are you Rockefeller?â€

 

“Yes. I am Rockefeller.â€

 

“In this medium, we can take you to Yuggoth, through the gate that the boy has made, and you can see him.â€

 

“Yes, take me to Tommy.â€

 

The others were horrified by this turn of events. The brain of Rockefeller, in the silver cylinder, was still alive and talking to them.

 

“Are you going to keep him like that?†Miss Edington said.

 

“Quiet!†one of the things said.

 

“You’re going to keep him like that!†she said. “You unbelievable creatures.â€

 

“Quiet!â€

 

* * *

 

Outside, Virgil Thomas hissed at Miss Fairfield, asking what was going on.

 

“They … they put his brain in a jar,†Miss Fairfield muttered, feeling helpless.

 

“Wha!?!†Felix muttered.

 

He looked at Virgil Thomas and then motioned towards the door. Virgil Thomas manipulated the spindle and the door flew open. The two men stepped in, guns raised. Felix fired at the horrible thing near the door, missing completely.

 

“Mr. Rockefeller!†he screamed.

 

“Stop it!†Miss Edington cried.

 

Miss Fairfield ran in and tossed the shotgun to Bricker. Virgil Thomas fired with both barrels at the nearby creature but the blast missed completely.

 

“Oh for heaven’s sake!†Miss Edington said. “Virgil, gimme my shotgun! You obviously don’t know how to use that thing!â€

 

Virgil Thomas shoved the shotgun into her hands and she grabbed at the shells in the bag and shoved one in the shotgun. Bricker moved to another of the things, put his shotgun to his shoulder and blasted away with both barrels, blasting part of the horrible thing away.

 

“No, we need to trust them,†the emotionless voice spoke from the rig. “Trust is the only way.â€

 

One of the ones that had been working on Rockefeller pulled out a small, black piece of metal.

 

“You must stop this madness!†it whispered.

 

It did something to the thing in its nippers and sparks flew out of the thing, narrowly missing Bricker, leaving black marks on the floor where they touched. Felix flung down the rifle and drew a smart-looking little semi-automatic pistol from his jacket pocket. He fired a shot at the thing near the door, which turned and shot him in the chest with a bolt of lightning. The blast knocked him back out of the room where he crashed into the hallway and lay still.

 

“No!†Miss Edington said. “Felix!â€

 

Miss Fairfield moved into the room, drawing her pistol and shooting one of the things. Virgil Thomas drew his large pistol and shot the thing that had blasted Felix, blowing a hole in it. Another of the things with the silver rods blasted at Bricker with its lightning rifle but the blast missed the man altogether, leaving a black mark on the wall and burning some of the pictures of brains there. The blast had gone just over Bricker’s head.

 

“You wot!?!†the man cried.

 

Miss Edington had grabbed the box of shells and, loading a shell as she ran, crossed the room, heading for Cooper. He was just taking his rifle from his shoulder, crying out oddly. Bricker cracked open his shotgun and shoved two more shells into the weapon, slamming it closed.

 

“Stop fighting,†the odd voice said from the rig. “Please.â€

 

Miss Fairfield shot the thing with the black thing in its nipper. The thing near the door blasted lightning at Virgil Thomas but the bolt went out the door and into the hall. Miss Fairfield shot the thing with the sparking thing again and Virgil shot the thing near the door again. The terrible thing near Bricker fired lightning at the man and he tried to dodge to one side but was struck by the electricity. He shook and was shaken terribly but not killed.

 

Miss Edington ran to Cooper and shoved the shotgun barrel into his neck.

 

“Drop your gun!†she said. “You gotta lot of explaining to do, Mr. Cooper.â€

 

Cooper looked at her doubtfully for a moment before he dropped the rifle. Miss Edington kicked the weapon away.

 

The creature with the small, black device ignored Miss Fairfield. Sparks flew at Bricker and the man tried to duck to one side clumsily, still suffering from the effects of the blast of lightning, and several sparks hit him. He found himself frozen to the spot.

 

“I miss Felix,†the disembodied and emotionless voice said.

 

One of the creatures fired another blast of lightning at Virgil Thomas. The man tried to dodge but was blasted by the lightning and was knocked backwards out of the doorway as well.

 

“No!†Miss Edington cried. “Virgil!â€

 

Miss Fairfield shot the thing firing sparks and hit it again. Another of the remaining creatures with the silver rod fired another lightning bolt at Miss Fairfield, missing her.

 

“Now I’ve heard you been working for these alien things all this time and you knew this was going to happen!†Miss Edington said to Cooper.

 

“No ma’am,†he said.

 

The other thing fired sparks at Miss Fairfield but they missed her, leaving black marks on the ground. Another blast of lightning was blasted at Miss Fairfield but she ducked to one side. The blast destroyed some kind of strange machinery. Miss Fairfield fired at the thing with the round black sparking device, hitting it again. Another blast of lightning flew towards her again and she leapt to one side once more.

 

“Did they do this to Tommy too?†Miss Edington said.

 

“They have not hurt him, ma’am,†a terrified Cooper replied.

 

“Where is he?â€

 

“He’s gone.â€

 

“What does that mean!?!â€

 

Another of the things moved to one side and fired more sparks at Miss Fairfield but they missed her completely. She returned fire, hitting the thing again. Another of the things fired yet another lightning both at Miss Fairfield and missing.

 

“Put down your weapons!†one of the horrors hissed at the woman.

 

It fired a bolt of lightning that blasted the other iris valve but didn’t seem to damage it. Miss Edington leaned down and picked up his rifle.

 

“Just get your ass out of here,†she said.

 

Cooper headed for the door.

 

The horror with the piece of black metal fired more sparks at Miss Fairfield but she leapt to the side and they missed her. She returned fire, hitting the thing. Another fired yet another blast of lightning at her, but missed the woman completely. Miss Fairfield cracked open her revolver and started reloading.

 

“Bitch! Shoot at these things!†she screamed.

 

“What’d you call me?†Miss Edington said, turning around.

 

Another blast of lightning narrowly missed Miss Fairfield. Then Miss Edington blasted the thing that had been firing sparks, letting loose with both barrels of the shotgun. She blew a hole the size of a man’s head in the creature, which was flung by the blast, slamming into another of the creatures and crashing to the ground.

 

“Who the hell else wants some!?!†she said, cracking open her shotgun. “And I know where you live, Jebediah!â€

 

Cooper ran out of the room in terror.

 

Bricker shook his head and put his shotgun up to what he thought was the thing’s head and pulled the trigger. The creature was slightly faster and Bricker was still shaking from being struck by lightning so the blast went over its “head.†One of the remaining things with the strange silver rods fired a lightning bolt at Miss Edington but it missed her completely as she reloaded her shotgun. Bricker, shotgun empty, punched the thing in front of him though didn’t seem to hurt it. The creature backed away from him and fired another lightning bolt that missed Bricker completely.

 

Miss Fairfield slammed shut the cylinder of her revolver and shot another of the things. The creature turned and flew towards the door. Miss Edington closed her shotgun and put it to her shoulder.

 

“You better chase after his ass!†she cried.

 

She fired at the thing near Bricker and blasted the thing practically to pieces. It crashed to the ground, dropping the silver rod. She also noticed another of the creatures in the corner, apparently trying to stay out of the entire altercation. Bricker, meanwhile, cracked his shotgun and reloaded, moving to that creature. Miss Fairfield fired a shot at the thing as it flew out of the doorway. She quickly put another bullet into the pistol and then ran to the door. Miss Edington walked quickly towards the door, reloading her shotgun as well.

 

“Oi!†Bricker said to the last creature, shoving the shotgun into it. “Put his brain back in!â€

 

“Do not hurt!†the thing whispered. “Do not hurt!â€

 

Miss Fairfield stepped out into the corridor, took aim with her revolver, and shot the thing flying away down the corridor. It spun out of control and then crashed to the floor. Miss Edington quickly reloaded her shotgun and they found that Virgil Thomas was alive but unconscious. Felix was dead. His teeth had exploded, his eyeballs had burst, and both the body and his suit were burned. Miss Edington tried to wake Virgil Thomas to no avail. Miss Fairfield dragged Felix’s body back into the room. Miss Edington dragged Virgil Thomas’ unconscious form back into the room as well.

 

“Does he want his brain back in his body?†the horrible creature whispered.

 

“I don’t care anymore,†the voice came out of the machine.

 

“Put it back,†Bricker said.

 

The creature unhooked Rockefeller’s brain cylinder from the rig and then removed the brain from the small device. As the other three watched, they realized if the creature could remove and replace a brain that easily, it might be able to actually save Felix’s brain, if they didn’t wait too long.

 

“Can you save Felix?†Miss Fairfield asked the creature.

 

“What does this one with the terrible weapon want?†the thing whispered.

 

“Yeah,†Bricker said. “Try to save him.â€

 

The creature moved to Felix and picked up his body, shoving Rockefeller’s body off the slab to the ground. The body continued to breath, however, despite the missing skull.

 

“The brain is not yet dead,†the creature said. “It can be saved.â€

 

“Okay,†Miss Edington said.

 

“Do it,†Bricker said.

 

The horrible creature cut open Felix’s head and pulled the brain out, slopping it into one of the other cylinders and closed the top.

 

“Do you wish it in the body of the first one?†the creature said, pushing Felix’s corpse off the slab onto the floor.

 

“No!†Bricker said. “Put Rockefeller’s brain back.â€

 

The thing picked up Rockefeller’s body and put it back on the table. It put the brain unceremoniously back in Rockefeller’s head and then looked around on the floor for the top of the man’s head. It replaced the top of the skull, manipulating some of the strange hanging devices around it. There was barely even a scar when the creature got finished. Moments later, Rockefeller blinked his eyes. The creature moved back from the man.

 

Everything looked normal to Rockefeller. He felt very strange and sighed heavily. It felt strange to breath. He could remember not feeling anything when he was locked away wherever he was.

 

They noticed the other creatures were melting away.

 

“I’m sorry I failed you,†Rockefeller said quietly. “Humanity is clearly not ready for this.â€

 

“Mr. Rockefeller, what the hell you talkin’ about?†Miss Edington said.

 

Rockefeller got up from the table. It seemed kind of odd to him that they just took his brain from his head.

 

Miss Edington went to the thing as Rockefeller walked out the door.

 

“Where’s the boy?†she asked the creature.

 

“He’s gone,†it whispered back. “He’s gone to Yuggoth.â€

 

“To who?â€

 

“He made a gate. He was able to go to Yuggoth. We will study it.â€

 

“And you’re saying there’s no way to get him back?â€

 

Rockefeller came back into the room and picked up Felix’s dead body.

 

“You’re not going to take his brain?†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“What are we going to do as humans?†Rockefeller said.

 

“We could shove his brain in Jebediah’s body,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

He walked towards the door.

 

“Where are you doing?†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“To bury the body,†Rockefeller said.

 

“Felix’s brain is in that jar! You can talk to him just like we talked to you.â€

 

“And say what? ‘I’m sorry you’re dead’?â€

 

“But he’s not dead!†Miss Edington said.

 

“Who knows?†Miss Fairfield said. “Maybe this creature can heal his body.â€

 

“Why would he want to help us when we attacked him?†Rockefeller said.

 

“Because we’re going to kill him if he doesn’t help us!â€

 

“You’re going to kill him either way. Or something.â€

 

“We did not say that!â€

 

“What are you going to do with him?â€

 

Miss Edington grabbed the leg of the corpse and tried to drag it back to into the room.

 

“What are we going to do with who?†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“The guy!†Rockefeller said.

 

“If he helps us, maybe we’ll let him go!â€

 

“What body are you going to put Felix in? What is going to happen?â€

 

“Can he heal him? We haven’t asked him these questions!â€

 

“Ask him then! Find out the answers! Don’t give me these hypotheticals!â€

 

“Mr. alien man, can you fix this man’s body!?!†Miss Edington said.

 

“The body is beyond repair,†the creature said.

 

“There you go!†Rockefeller cried. “There you go!â€

 

“Do you have any extra bodies?†Miss Fairfield asked the horrible thing.

 

“I assume you’ve done an operation on some other humans,†Miss Edington said. “Y’all might some spare parts because y’all seem like you’ve done this a lot.â€

 

The creature pointed at the other iris valve. Miss Fairfield opened it to find another trapezoidal room. It had a six-foot ceiling and a number of small cells, each sealed with another iris-shaped door composed of metal bars that tightly meshed together. A small spindle was on a panel next to each doorway. The walls, ceiling, and floor of each cell were covered in some kind of pink foam and each was just large enough to comfortably hold a single person. Two of them held men who simply stood and stared straight ahead.

 

“Hello?†Miss Fairfield said.

 

They saw that each of the men had a barely visible scar going across their foreheads similar to the one Rockefeller now had.

 

“Hello?†Miss Fairfield said again. Then she turned to the creature. “What’s wrong with them?â€

 

“They have been conditioned,†the creature replied.

 

“What the hell does that mean?†Miss Edington asked.

 

“They will do as they are told,†the thing whispered.

 

“Did you take out their brains?†Miss Fairfield asked.

 

“Their brains are still within their bodies,†the creature whispered. “They have been conditioned.â€

 

“You did this to them?†Miss Edington said. “Did they say they wanted this to happen?â€

 

“It was done to them,†the creature whispered. “They were trespassers. Interlopers. As you are.â€

 

“So, this is what’s going to happen to Rockefeller if we let you?†Miss Edington said.

 

“No, not to Rockefeller,†the creature whispered. “He would have gone to Yuggoth to see Tommy Bailey.â€

 

“Which is what I wanted to do,†Rockefeller said.

 

“Will Tommy be back?†Miss Edington asked.

 

“I do not know what is planned for Tommy Bailey,†the creature whispered.

 

“So what are we supposed to tell Tommy Bailey’s parents?†Miss Edington asked.

 

The creature did not reply.

 

“These two were trespassers,†Rockefeller said. “They weren’t going to do that to me.â€

 

“Liar,†Miss Edington muttered.

 

“He has no reason to lie now,†Rockefeller said. “He gains nothing from lying.â€

 

“I don’t even know any more,†Miss Edington said.

 

“They can still do it,†Miss Fairfield said. “But maybe they can save Felix first.â€

 

“Felix’s body is gone,†Rockefeller said. “He will be a shell of the man he once was before this.â€

 

“I’m about to slap the hell out of you,†Miss Edington said to him. “You are depressing me. We can save this man and you’re over here─â€

 

“I want to save Felix!â€

 

“Then do it! Go get one of them body-men!â€

 

“Is that ethical?â€

 

“That doesn’t really matter now!â€

 

“To kill someone else to save another?â€

 

“It doesn’t really matter now!â€

 

“Are they living?†Bricker said.

 

“He said that they were conditioned, whatever the hell that means!†Miss Edington said.

 

“They could put their brains in jars,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Which means they’re probably too far gone and don’t really matter anymore,†Miss Edington said.

 

“Could you do it?†Rockefeller asked the horrible creature. “Could you move his brain to that body? And would he be the same.â€

 

“It is simple work to move a brain into another body,†the creature whispered.

 

“Okay,†Miss Edington said.

 

“Then show me,†Rockefeller said.

 

“Bring the one you desire,†the thing whispered.

 

Rockefeller looked at the two men. One appeared very average while the other was smaller and weaker-looking. He opened the cell and ordered the average-looking man out and then told him to lay on the table. The man did so without comment or expression. The creature pulled the tubes and strange things from the ceiling, one shining a light in the man’s eyes. Then it cut the man’s head open, the man bleeding all over the place. The creature didn’t seem to use any antiseptic, which also seemed strange. It reached over to the canister where it had put Felix’s brain earlier and took it out, shoved it into the other man’s skull, put the top of the skull one once again, manipulating the devices to close the wound, leaving only the barest of scars. It removed the light from the man’s eyes and stepped clumsily back.

 

“What …?†the young man said uncertainly. “What happened Mr. Rockefeller? I don’t … what is wrong with my voice?â€

 

“I think too many things have happened and we should take this slow,†Rockefeller said. “But your body is … not your body.â€

 

The man looked at his hands and looked around, very confused. Miss Edington nonchalantly kicked Felix’s original body under the table. Rockefeller went to the man who was now Felix Crane and hugged him. Felix hugged him back though he seemed a little confused.

 

“I thought I lost you, Felix,†Rockefeller said.

 

“It’s … quite all right, sir,†Felix said. “I still don’t understand why my voice sounds so strange.â€

 

“We’ll get to that later,†Rockefeller said.

 

“Your friend is back,†the thing in the corner whispered. “Go. Go and never come back to this place.â€

 

“We need Tommy,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“He’s gone to Yuggoth!†the horrible thing whispered, it’s head glowing in a multitude of lights. “He’s gone through the gate room!â€

 

“Can you not go get him?†Miss Edington said.

 

“Is … is that why they need to be in canisters?†Miss Fairfield said, remembering the gate that had led apparently into a vacuum.

 

“What?†the thing whispered. “What?â€

 

“Why were you putting his brain in a canister? Mr. Rockefeller?â€

 

“I was told to.â€

 

It gestured to one of the puddles disintegrating on the floor next to the small, black device. Miss Edington picked up the strange little item.

 

“You mean him?†she said.

 

“Yes,†the thing whispered.

 

“What were you going to do with his brain?†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Take him to Yuggoth,†the creature said.

 

“Where he would never been seen again,†Miss Edington said.

 

“I do not know,†the creature whispered.

 

“Why don’t you go get Mr. Tommy Bailey for us?†Miss Edington said.

 

“There is no … he has gone to Yuggoth by his own means,†the creature whispered.

 

“Where is Tommy’s body?†Rockefeller said.

 

“The small one, his brain was not removed,†the thing whispered. “We feared it would be damaged. We had to study it. It will not be removed until no other options are available.â€

 

“So, you sent the whole child?â€

 

“The small one understood our portals, our gates. With only a little questioning, he was able to make one of his own in the gate room.â€

 

“Take us to the gate room.â€

 

When the thing didn’t move, Rockefeller took out his pistol and pointed it at the strange appendage that seemed to be in the place a head would be on any normal, living creature. Bricker nudged the horrible thing with his shotgun.

 

“You might as well, Mr. Alien,†Miss Edington said.

 

“Very well,†the thing whispered.

 

The thing led them out of the room as they recovered their rifles and shotguns. Felix tried, as they left, to awaken Virgil Thomas without luck.

 

“We should take him back to the gate room,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

She picked up the large black man with surprising ease and they followed the creature back through the twisting passages. They passed the room with the strange portals leading outside and then up the very long corridor. They passed the side passage and then by another of the strange energy areas. They turned and went by the other iris valve near the place where four passages came together and finally to the room where the more complicated gate lay in the side room. The creature opened the iris valve.

 

An even more complex circle filled with strange symbols and odd writing was on the wall opposite the gate that led to vacuum. This one was made of chalk and was more roughly drawn. It was also much, much more complex. Next to it was a little tennis shoe. Neither the drawing nor the tennis shoe had been in the room when they’d been there some hours before.

 

Miss Edington walked to the new drawing and put her hand up against it. Nothing happened. She swore.

 

“There,†the creature whispered. “We bid him to make it and he did. Out of his own head. Without any training. Without anything.â€

 

Bricker went over to the wall and put his hand to it. It slipped through the wall and he felt drained but otherwise, he felt nothing unusual on the other side. Miss Edington put her hand through the now open portal and pulled it right back out. She put it in again and then Bricker put his head through the portal.

 

* * *

 

On the other side of the portal was a pentagonal room. The walls were polished like glass and he could see another of the iris valves directly across from where his head and hand seemed to come out of empty air. The strange moss or mold on the ceiling began to glow, filling the room with a sickly light. He could feel the air and he could breathe. He felt a little nauseous as well, his stomach turning over.

 

Miss Edington stuck her head through as well and looked at this new room.

 

“Nigel, I think I get this door thing now,†she said. “Could you just stand here?â€

 

“Yeah,†Bricker replied uncertainly. “Sure.â€

 

“Just keep touching it,†she said.

 

She walked into the room. As she started to head for the iris door, she was flung up into the air and crashed against the opposite wall, floating slowly down to the floor. She felt nauseous and odd but realized, somehow, the gravity was less wherever she was. She moved more carefully after that.

 

* * *

 

“Where is she?†Rockefeller asked the creature. “Where did she go?â€

 

“The gate, it leads to Yuggoth,†the thing whispered.

 

“Where is Yuggoth?â€

 

“Yuggoth is the furthest. A world that your kind has not discovered yet.â€

 

“But you have?â€

 

“It is our colony world in this system.â€

 

“So, there’s a lot of you there?â€

 

“Many.â€

 

Rockefeller cursed and walked towards the door.

 

“Tommy is lost,†he said. “There is no hope. Come, Felix.â€

 

“We don’t know that yet, Mr. Rockefeller,†Felix said, following him out into the hallway. “Don’t give up hope. What is wrong with my voice?â€

 

“That’s what I believe.â€

 

“This isn’t like you, Mr. Rockefeller.â€

 

“I don’t want to lose you again, Felix.â€

 

“Well, if it’s to save a small boy … especially a retarded young boy. Someone who can’t help himself.â€

 

* * *

 

Miss Edington, looking back at Bricker’s head and torso coming out of thin air, noticed some small windows on the two walls behind the man. Each was circular and about three feet in diameter. She carefully crept over to them, trying hard not to fling herself across the room once again. They appeared to look out onto the night’s sky and the twilight was marked with remarkably clear stars that didn’t twinkle, but burned with uninterrupted light, the likes of which she had never seen before. The land appeared frozen with sheets of ice, some if it covered in a light dusting of snow, as far as her eyes could see. The view was unnerving as it just seemed wrong: the horizon was too close, the stars too bright.

 

She recognized some of the constellations of the stars. She thought she was somehow in the same solar system though obviously not on earth. It was somewhat unnerving.

 

* * *

 

“Do you have anything that can heal Virgil?†Rockefeller asked the creature.

 

“If we take it back to the laboratory, I might be able to revive it,†the thing whispered.

 

“Well, let’s hurry,†Rockefeller said.

 

Miss Fairfield went to the portal and stuck her head in. She suddenly felt horribly sick and nauseous, her stomach turning over. She quickly told Bricker they were leaving to see if they could help Virgil. Then she pulled her head back in and left with the others, leaving him there alone

 

They quickly went back through the twisting, confusing tunnels to the laboratory where Felix had died and Rockefeller operated on. Miss Fairfield stopped in the other gate room on the way and retrieved her photo equipment. In the laboratory, the thing found a strange syringe and filled it from an odd-shaped bottle. The green liquid glowed even in the light and the thing injected Virgil Thomas with it. The man woke up and let out a cry.

 

“What the hell!?!†he said.

 

“Calm down,†Rockefeller said. “It’s already over. War’s over, soldier. Miss Suzanna is down the hall.â€

 

“Let’s go get her!†Virgil Thomas said, sitting up and sliding off the table to move away from the horrible creature. “What’s that thing?â€

 

“What did you just give him?†Rockefeller asked the thing.

 

“It is something that will merely wake him,†the creature whispered.

 

“I want some of that,†Rockefeller said.

 

The horrific creature gave Rockefeller a strange, silver syringe filled with a glowing green liquid.

 

“I just inject it?†Rockefeller said. “And it revives people.â€

 

“For a time, yes,†the thing whispered.

 

“Is he fine now?â€

 

“He will be fine.â€

 

“For how long?â€

 

“Until he is injured again.â€

 

“Fair enough. All right. You’re coming with us.â€

 

Virgil Thomas picked up his pistol, which had been left on the floor. He started to reload the weapon, looking strangely at Felix, whom he obviously didn’t recognize. Rockefeller put his hand on Virgil Thomas’ shoulder.

 

“We need him for now,†he whispered to the man as he looked at the alien. “Then you can … kill him.â€

 

Miss Fairfield had set up her equipment in the laboratory and had them pose around the terrible creature. She took a photograph of the horrible thing with them. Then she packed up her equipment again and they headed back to the other room.

 

* * *

 

Shortly after Miss Fairfield stuck her head in, Miss Edington went to the iris valve and manipulated the spindle beside it. It opened into a hallway with more of the iris valves on either side. She carefully crept down the roundish corridor and went to the iris valve on the left, opening it.

 

As the light came on in the room, she saw it resembled the room where they had fought the creatures before. It was five sided and had two walls filled with large windows. Three large tables and a number of plastic slabs, racks of strange, alien equipment, and various drawings depicting the human brain and other organs were in the room. Again, various tendrils and tubes, some apparently with sharp claws or blades, hung from the ceiling over the tables. Everything seemed to be new additions to the room.

 

On a small table to one side was a single brain cylinder with a small nameplate. Sitting next to it was another of the tall rigs with twin lenses, vacuum tubes and sounding board, and a small box with a metal disk. She walked over and saw the nameplate read “Tommy Bailey.†The top of the cylinder was open and, though it was filled with a clear liquid, there was no brain within. On a shelf cut into the opposite wall were a dozen small vials filled with a golden liquid. Also on the shelf was a strange, alien-looking device with a needle sticking out of one end and a receptacle where a vial could be connected.

 

She crossed the corridor to the other door there.

 

That room was also five-sided and, as she entered, no moss glowed in the room. The entire ceiling was, instead, composed of another great piece of clear substance like glass. Smaller windows dotted the two walls furthest from the door. Most of the space in the room was filled with alien equipment covered with odd dials, buttons, levers, and other strange manipulating devices. Dominating the center of the room and held aloft by some means unknown was a great device of brass and crystal tubes with enclosed glass philters filling with strange liquids resembling mercury. The tubes seemed to be somehow connected to the crystal that formed the ceiling and reached almost to the polished floor. More strange devices, some of them of an organic nature, were affixed to the machinery on the walls and the strange, almost beautiful device in the center. The entire room seemed dusty, as if it had not been used in many years.

 

She left the room, closing both iris valves. Two more doors stood further down the tunnel on either side, just where the corridor bore to the right. She cautiously made her way down the corridor to the next iris valve on the left.

 

The room beyond started to come alight as she entered. She saw it was larger than the other rooms she’d seen in the place thus far. Windows dotted four of the eight oddly-angled walls, still showing the nighttime sky without. Making it even more unsettling were the familiar objects that lay about the room: a four-poster bed and mattress, several ladder back chairs around a wooden table covered with pieces of paper, chalk, string, crayons, and even pencils and glue. Toys were scattered across the floor of all shapes and kinds, though most were geometrically designed and strange to look at. Finally, in the far corner of the room sat an Oriental rug with several pillows, as well as two cushioned chairs. In the corner itself was a larger cushioned chair with a man sitting upon it, staring at her. He wore overalls and a thick shirt.

 

She stared back at the man.

 

“Hey,†she said.

 

He didn’t move or speak.

 

“What’s your name?†she asked.

 

There was no reply.

 

“Are you not able to speak?†she said.

 

There was no reply.

 

“Can you make some gestures at least?†she asked.

 

The figure didn’t move.

 

“Okay …†she muttered.

 

She moved forward and touched the man. He seemed to be warm. She waved her hand in his face but he didn’t respond at all. Unnerved, she walked away, leaving the room.

 

She went to the room across the hall, opening the iris valve. As the light came on in the room, she saw that the opposite wall looked newer and of a different material than the other walls of the room. It was pierced by an iris valve composed of metal bars, much like the strange cells she’s seen before. The floor, walls, and ceiling of the room beyond the bars seemed to be covered with some kind of pink substance. She moved carefully to the bars and manipulated the spindle. The bars pulled into the walls almost like spider webs.

 

She watched to make sure it didn’t close and then stepped in and looked around. The pink substance appeared to be soft and yielding. A child lay in the corner, sleeping. He had blonde hair, a white shirt, and was missing one of his tennis shoes.

 

She moved to the child and shook his shoulder.

 

“What?†he said, waking. “Who are you?â€

 

“Tommy?†she said. “Are you Tommy?â€

 

“Who are you?â€

 

“I’ll tell you if you tell me who you are first.â€

 

“Nope. No!â€

 

“No?â€

 

“Okay. Square root of 278,643.â€

 

She looked at him blankly.

 

“Tell me that,†he said smugly. “And I’ll tell you who I am.â€

 

She looked at him blankly.

 

“It’s so easy!†he said.

 

He rolled back over away from her. She grabbed him and picked him up and he went into a frenzy of action, kicking and punching and biting at the woman.

 

“No!†he shrieked. “No! I don’t like to be touched! No!â€

 

She tried to calm the boy but then gave up and just ran out of the cell as the child shrieked and screamed. She struggled with the child as he tried to escape her grip and he once managed to actually punch the woman solidly. She ignored the pain and ran out of the room down the corridor to the portal.

 

“Ow!†the boy screamed after punching her again without effect. “You hurt my hand! Ow!â€

 

He cried as he continued screaming and shouting about being hurt. She ran through the portal, feeling very heavy on the other side. Bricker pulled his head and shoulders out of the gate, feeling terrible. It was too much for his stomach and he stumbled to one corner and vomited. The child continued to scream and punch and kick and bite, trying to get free of the woman.

 

“Let me go!†the child screamed. “Let me go! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!â€

 

She put him down on the ground but held the boy by the shoulders. He continued screaming and trying to get loose of her grip, trying to hit the woman but hurting himself even more and screaming in pain, tears running down his ever reddening face.

 

“Nigel, you want to pick this child up?†she asked.

 

Bricker looked up from where he was leaning against the wall and then got sick again.

 

“Oh,†she said.

 

“Let me go!†the child screamed over and over again.

 

“Why do you want to go back there so bad?†Miss Edington asked.

 

“Let me go! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!â€

 

He continued screaming and swinging, trying to bite the woman. She picked him back up, holding him very tight, and the child screamed and struggled against her, kicking her once solidly but not hurting her. She sat down and held the child, who continued to scream, cry, and struggle against her.

 

They waited for the others to return.

 

It was some 45 minutes later before they did so. The child was still struggling against Miss Edington though he had exhausted himself, working himself up into such a lather that he had vomited all over the woman. The boy was red-faced and exhausted, as was Miss Edington.

 

“We need to decide what to do with this thing,†Rockefeller said.

 

“Mr. alien, can you take us back to the hub?†Miss Edington said.

 

Virgil caught Rockefeller’s eye and cocked the hammer of his revolver, obviously inquiring.

 

“What was going to happen to me?†Rockefeller asked the horrible thing.

 

“You would have been taken to Yuggoth,†the thing whispered.

 

“Would I have been myself?â€

 

“If you had preferred.â€

 

“I would have preferred.â€

 

“Then you would have whatever you had wanted to be.â€

 

“Did you ever intend to hurt my friends?â€

 

“No. They are trespassers. We are scientists.â€

 

“Well, Mr. Scientist-Man, if you would take us back to the portal room where we can go back where we came from, we won’t come back here,†Miss Edington said.

 

“You have the boy,†the creature whispered. “He can lead you back any time.â€

 

“He could but he ain’t going to listen.â€

 

She put her hand over the crying, whining, child’s mouth and he bit her. It hurt but didn’t break the skin.

 

“If you take us back to the portal room, we will let you live and you can go back to Yuggoth,†Rockefeller said. “Your home world.â€

 

“You will tell me how you found your way in,†the creature whispered.

 

“I will tell you how we found our way in,†Rockefeller said.

 

“Right before we leave,†Miss Edington added.

 

The thing moved towards the door to lead them out, then back through the twisting tunnels and back to the room with the portals. Miss Edington, still carrying Tommy Bailey, went directly out the portal to the hollow. The others followed her, Virgil Thomas the last one out before Rockefeller, who brought up the rear. The negro gave Rockefeller a stern look, but the man just nodded and waved him off. After Virgil Thomas disappeared through the strange portal, Rockefeller told the horrible creature how they had gotten into the place via the underground river.

 

Rockefeller took the black rock and the strange jar filled with the green-glowing sand out of his pocket.

 

“I would like to know what these are before I leave you,†he said.

 

“They are a substance your people have not discovered yet,†the thing whispered.

 

“What do they do?â€

 

“Nothing that can help you. You could still come with us. You could still work with us. See other worlds, other galaxies. Our influence is wide.â€

 

“How will I get back here? How will I find you again?â€

 

“Come now with us.â€

 

“I can’t now. But maybe later. How can I find you?â€

 

“We will find you.â€

 

“I’m John P. Rockefeller. That’s me. John P. Rockefeller.â€

 

He fled through the tunnel to find Virgil Thomas and Felix both waiting on the other side of the portal. Virgil Thomas pointed his pistol at Rockefeller as he came out and, as the man walked by him, he continued to point it at the portal as he slowly walked away. Then the three fled some ways after the others.

 

* * *

 

They had almost gotten back to Brown Mountain Beach when they saw light in the sky behind them and a strange buzzing noise growing louder. Miss Edington, Bricker, and Miss Fairfield were some hundred yards ahead of Rockefeller, Felix, and Virgil Thomas. The leading group splashed across the river and the following group neared Wilson Creek when the lights appeared behind them.

 

It was mostly quiet at Brown Mountain Beach though there were numerous lights in the campground ahead.

 

Rockefeller and the tailing group just reached the river when four more of the horrific creatures, each with one of the strange, worm-eaten silver rods, flew down not far behind them, the appendage where their heads should be glowing strangely. Rockefeller started yelling they had Tommy. Shouts came from the camp as Miss Fairfield screamed for the men to get their guns. They spotted a train on the tracks at the top of the grade ahead, smoke coming from its stack. A slew of at least two dozen men came running down the slope towards the river. Most of the men coming down the slope, including a pair of deputy sheriffs, were armed. When they saw the lights and the things that came down from the sky, the shouts turned, sometimes, into screams. Erratic gunfire began erupting from the group of men there. Though some men fainted or fled screaming from the terrible sight, many more opened fire with pistol, rifle, and shotgun.

 

Virgil slowed down long enough to join them, turning and backing through the water as he fired shot after shot from his revolver.

 

The creatures were driven off, one of them erratically twisting down out of the sky and smashing to the ground on the opposite side of the river where no one went until the early morning hours. When they did, they found nothing but a strange, discolored spot on the ground.

 

Confusion ensued after the strange attack. The men in the camp were disturbed at what they had seen and some wondered aloud at the Brown Mountain lights coming for them while others wondered if they had merely imagined the horrible things. The deputies were at a loss as to what to do.

 

Miss Edington returned Tommy Bailey to his parents, who were overjoyed to have him back.

 

Rockefeller was glad to talk to the deputies and to the reporter from the Morganton News-Herald who was at the camp. He gave his name and the names of the others who had helped to find the child. The names of William Avery Rockefeller, Nigel Bricker, Evelyn Fairfield, Susanna Edington, Darla Greene, Alexe Hernandez, and Felix Crane soon appeared in the newspaper. Virgil Thomas asked Rockefeller to keep his name out of it and the man obliged. The newspaper story was published the next week and went nationwide, though it also noted the strange disturbance with what was described as the Brown Mountain lights at the end of the hunt for the child and the confusion that followed.

 

Miss Fairfield was able to develop her film in a small lab in Morganton a few days later. None of the interior shot turned out, though the photographs she took outside on Brown Mountain seemed quite good. The one she took of the strange carvings on the rock wall were very clear. The photograph she took in the alien surgery room showed Rockefeller, Bricker, Felix, and Virgil Thomas, but there was no sign of the strange creature. It did not appear at all and she guessed it was made of some kind of substance that could not be photographed.

 

When questioned by police about finding the child, Rockefeller said that Tommy Bailey had been in the clutches of Jebediah Cooper, noting that Felix, Miss Greene, and Miss Hernandez would corroborate his accusation.


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