Monday, February 13, 2017
(After playing the Call of Cthulhu scenario â€œDark Carnivalâ€ by David A. Hargrave from Curse of the Chthonians Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with Ashton LeBlanc, Collin Townsend, Ben Abbott, Yorie Latimer, and Joey Scott.)
Evelyn Fairfield had been too busy at the Providence Journal on Wednesday, May 16, 1928, to join the others. She had not even received any telephone messages from those investigating the dark carnival, which surprised her. She wondered if the sexist, pompous assistant editor, James Updyke, had been taking the calls and so not even bothered. She had been out taking photographs most of the day and, when she returned, he had warned her, once again, about taking personal telephone calls at the office.
On Thursday, May 17, she had to get into the office early to cover for the city editor who was out that day. She ended up going to police headquarters to get the various police reports from the day before and was surprised to find a police report on the arrest of Dr. Carl Huxtable. He was charged with filing a false report and inciting mischief.
That sounds about right, she thought.
The report read Dr. Huxtable had contacted the police at the precinct near Swan Point Cemetery. He claimed to have found the missing boy and two officers escorted him to the cemetery. After a long search for a grave he claimed held a secret panel and having to consult the records at the cemetery superintendentâ€™s home, they found the grave he claimed was correct. They dug down to the coffin but found nothing. At that point he admitted he might be in the wrong spot. He was returned to the precinct for questioning whereupon he â€œacted in an erratic and irrational mannerâ€ and led police to believe he was in great distress. He was held in a cell overnight and charged in the morning. He was released on his own recognizance.
She decided not to put it in the paper and discarded the report.
After lunch, she slipped out and biked to Potterâ€™s Garage, a few blocks away. She found Nigel Bricker under a newer Model A, working on the motorcar. A man stood next to the automobile watching Bricker work and constantly questioning him on everything he did. Bricker ignored him but seemed very frustrated. He was under the car when he noticed a womanâ€™s legs and ankles walk over.
Oh, he thought.
â€œMr. Bricker,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
He looked out to see the woman.
â€œOh!â€ he said.
â€œAre you almost done here?â€ she asked.
â€œYeah, just give me a minute,â€ he said.
She stood off to the side while he finished up his work. He sent the man to Potterâ€™s office to pay.
â€œI donâ€™t think that guy did a very good job,â€ the complaining man said to his boss. â€œHe didnâ€™t seem to be working hard.â€
â€œEvery time,â€ Bricker muttered.
He wiped his hands and approached Miss Fairfield.
â€œSo, I saw Huxtable got arrested,â€ she said to him. â€œWere you there?â€
â€œHuxtable got arrested?â€ he said.
â€œOkay, I guess that answers my question.â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™d already taken off and come back by the time â€¦ Iâ€™m sure he got out or Iâ€™m pretty sure he got out, but I donâ€™t know what happenedâ”€â€
â€œYeah, he did.â€
â€œWell, he said something about some panel under a grave or something?â€
â€œYes, there was a panel under the grave. Did they not find it?â€
She shook her head.
â€œWell, thatâ€™s news to me,â€ he said. â€œI know how else we got down there, but â€¦ I mean. I donâ€™t think we found a way to get back to that grave.â€
â€œMaybe we can talk somewhere more private,â€ she said.
Bricker told Potter he was taking his lunch break and they went to his tiny little room connected to the back of the garage. There, he told her what had happened the night before. He explained how they talked to the cemetery workers and entered the sewage drain pipe under the carnival. He related the vast caves there, Wessen and James going off on their own, and the dead men around the brazier. He called them zombies and noted they didnâ€™t react unless you got close and touched them.
â€œSo, like those things in Florida?â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œNo,â€ he replied.
He noted they were like the things but not exactly like the things. They had no holes in their chest and didnâ€™t seem to do much. He told her they had heard a noise and found some strange, dog-men things with hooves. One of them was gnawing on an arm that was Kent Howardâ€™s. They found James with more of the things, which talked to them. They wanted dead bodies to tell them secrets. Then other people showed up, one of them the red-coated carnival barker. They attacked them but they escaped through the grave and then he ran home. He noted they had never seen Wessen again.
She asked who the new people he mentioned were. She recognized Father Oeinâ€™s name and thought he was in charge of one of the churches in Providence but didnâ€™t recognize Wessen or Joseph Johnson. The only one Bricker knew how to get hold of was Joell Johnson.
* * *
Joell Johnson had tossed and turned the entire night, unable to sleep. The faces of the dead men, the horrible implications of what had happened to them, and the terrible, inhuman things that ate dead flesh wouldnâ€™t stay out of his head. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw the horrible things from the caves.
It was not until well after 7 a.m. that he had fallen asleep and, even then, only slept fitfully, waking every few minutes to an hour to look about his room before going back to a semi-lucid, nightmarish, half-sleep.
It was around 1 p.m. when he was woken by a knock at his door. He threw some clothes on and answered it, finding Bricker and Miss Fairfield there. He looked exhausted, with dark bags under his eyes.
â€œAre you sick?â€ Miss Fairfield asked.
â€œNo, but â€¦ after â€¦ after seeing all that, I didnâ€™t get to sleep until it was already morning,â€ Johnson said. â€œDonâ€™t come in. Iâ€™ll meet you out here in just a minute.â€
He closed the door and, after a few minutes, joined them in the nasty hallway.
â€œYou want to talk somewhere other than here?â€ Joell asked.
â€œYeah,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
Someone coughed violently in one of the rooms. The walls were very thin.
â€œWe definitely want to get out of here before Crazy Jeff gets home,â€ Joell said, leading them towards the stairs.
Jeff Straczynski was known as Crazy Jeff in the building. He was an older man who rarely bathed or groomed himself. His salt-and-pepper hair, mustache, and beard were always a mess. He wore heavy clothing year round and seemed to hate everyone. Everyone knew he was insane.
They met him coming up the stairs as they were going down.
â€œThere you are!â€ he shouted at Joell. â€œI warned youâ”€â€
â€œWhatâ€™s up, Jeff?â€ Jeoll said.
â€œYou stay out of my room!â€
â€œYep. I did.â€
â€œYou stay out of my room!â€
He poked Joell in the chest as he always did.
â€œI been following your orders, Jeff,â€ Joell said.
â€œYou stay out!â€ Jeff bellowed.
â€œIf I find anything missing â€¦ I put some hairs. I hooked â€˜em to the door. Iâ€™ll know if theyâ€™re down! Iâ€™ll know!â€
He walked by them, glaring at Joell. He stank of alcohol.
â€œYou son of a bitch!â€ he shouted.
â€œGood to see you too, Jeff,â€ Joell said.
They left the flophouse.
â€œSo, has Bricker already told you what happened?â€ Joell asked.
â€œPretty much,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œAlright. Whatâ€™s the plan? Are we just getting everybody together?â€
â€œYep. And we should probably get you some coffee.â€
â€œWell, I do know where my cousin lives,â€ he said. â€œHeâ€™s right nearby here. So, that can be our next stop.â€
â€œAll right,â€ she said.
They walked a few blocks to a nicer apartment building.
* * *
Joseph Johnson had burned his clothing in a burn barrel near Joellâ€™s apartment. They had seen Crazy Jeff near the barrel with the other winos.
â€œAre those mine!?!â€ Crazy Jeff had yelled at Joell. â€œYou son of a bitch!â€
Joseph had gone home that terrible night, bathing and then sleeping. He felt awful when he woke up on Thursday. Not long after that, there was a knock on his door.
He opened the door, leaving the chain on, and saw his cousin Joell. He closed the door and unlocked it, letting them in. Joseph looked terrible. He wore an undershirt and pants. He was pale and looked sweaty. His hands were shaking. The apartment was a little bigger than Joellâ€™s but sparsely furnished. A Murphy bed was down on one side, the blankets askew, and an open door led to a bathroom.
â€œYou look about as good as I feel,â€ Joell said to him.
â€œYeah â€¦ I â€¦ I didnâ€™t throw up at all last night but â€¦ I just canâ€™t stop now,â€ Joseph said.
â€œI havenâ€™t eaten yet â€¦ or anything. Iâ€™m afraid â€¦â€
â€œIâ€™m afraid of a lot of things.â€
â€œProbably good for healing.â€
â€œThereâ€™s been dogs barking outside. Theyâ€™re coming.â€
Bricker winced when the man mentioned dogs.
â€œAre you sure about this, Joell?â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œWell â€¦ I wanted to check on him, at least,â€ Joell said.
â€œHave â€¦ uh â€¦ did the â€¦ uh â€¦ police find anything?â€ Joseph asked.
â€œNo,â€ Joell said.
â€œThat Doctor â€¦ when we found him â€¦ okay. So, they found the grave, right?â€
â€œNope,â€ Miss Fairfield said. â€œNot the grave you saw.â€
â€œOh. I knew I shouldâ€™ve broke that winch. Those dogs are down there.â€
â€œI realize youâ€™re not feeling well,â€ Joell said. â€œAre you feeling well enough to get together today? Or do you want us to come back sometime?â€
â€œAnd also whoâ€™s that preacher man?â€
â€œOh. Father Oein.â€
â€œYeah, where is â€¦ if we need to talk to him â€¦â€
â€œHeâ€™s at St. Sebastian Catholic Church. Itâ€™s on the east side of town.â€
Thatâ€™s when Miss Fairfield remembered where sheâ€™d heard the name before. Father Oein was the priest who had taken over that church a few months before when the current priest had died. Thereâ€™d been a story in the newspaper about it.
â€œYou feeling good enough to head out today?â€ Joell asked again.
â€œSure,â€ Joseph said hesitantly. â€œI didnâ€™t realize when you said you needed some help it was this though. That was a bit much. I thought we were just going to find some carnies who were being â€¦ kidnapping children or something. Just regular carnies. You know.â€
â€œThatâ€™s what I expected too,â€ Joell said.
â€œYeah â€¦ weâ€™ll see how the Father is. Iâ€™m sure he could handle stuff like this.â€
â€œYou want to go with us or do you want us to give you some time to put yourself together.â€
â€œGive me some time.â€
â€œAll right, where should we meet you at? You want us to just come back here after we have the Father?â€
Miss Fairfield actually had an idea where the church was located on the south side of the Blackstone neighborhood. It was a newer church only built about a decade before. Nearby was a nice, two-story, brick rectory where they guessed Father Oein lived.
* * *
Father Oein had dropped off the others, thrown his clothing in the burn barrel behind the rectory, and then hosed out his Model T before taking a bath and going to bed. Nonetheless, he felt terrible on Thursday morning. First had come the diarrhea and then the feeling of wanting to vomit. He had also been feeling very shaking in terms of his faith, God, and Christianity. That a kind and loving God could allow the things to exist that existed under that dark carnival were beyond him. It didnâ€™t make sense, at least not in relation to everything he had believed all his life until then.
He answered the rectory door wearing a tank top undershirt, his black pants, and holding a crucifix in one hand and a glass of scotch in the other. He looked pale and sweaty.
â€œHello?â€ he said to the three on the stoop.
â€œWell, good morning father,â€ Joell said. â€œYouâ€™re looking most holy today.â€
â€œHoly â€¦ yeah,â€ Father Oein said. â€œSure. How can I help you, my â€¦ child?â€
â€œAre you sick too?â€
â€œIâ€™m not feeling so great. What can I do you for? And â€¦uh â€¦ you have a new face.â€
â€œMiss Fairfield,â€ she said.
â€œMiss Fairfield,â€ he replied. â€œNice to meet you. Iâ€™m Father Oein.â€
â€œIâ€™ve heard about you in the paper. Youâ€™re the new pastor â€¦er â€¦ preacher to this church.â€
â€œWell, we were getting back together with everybody after what happened last night,â€ Joell said.
Father Oein grunted.
â€œBut it looks like not all of us are up to it today,â€ Joell went on.
â€œLast night,â€ Father Oein said. â€œIâ€™d rather not think about it. I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s what I saw or what I waded through thatâ€™s bothering me today but â€¦â€
â€œThings like this kind of â€¦ shake the faith a little bit, if you know what I mean,â€ he went on. â€œItâ€™s just â€¦ disturbing to see. If it was even real! I â€¦ I donâ€™t know.â€
â€œWell, do you want us to give you some time to get better and figure out what to do about this situation later?â€ Joell asked.
â€œI would say give me â€¦ I at least need today. Today to recover. I need to drink my fluids.â€
He held up the glass of scotch.
â€œAnd â€¦ just meditate,â€ he went on. â€œI would love to help you. I just donâ€™t know if Iâ€™m in the best condition to right now.â€
â€œAll right,â€ Joell said. â€œWe talked to Joseph, also. Heâ€™s a tough son of a bitch, so he said heâ€™d go out, butâ”€â€
â€œâ”€I donâ€™t think heâ€™s â€¦ oh. Right.â€
â€œJoseph is, heâ€™s one tough son of a gun, Iâ€™ll give you that. Is he not feeling well either?â€
â€œHeâ€™s looking about like you are.â€
â€œMust be the same thing. How lucky. I see youâ€™re faring okay, despite wearing nothing â€¦ in the sewers.â€
â€œIf you call not being able to sleep okay then, yeah, Iâ€™m doing great.â€
â€œI would definitely take that to what I feel like right now.â€
â€œI can see that. Well, weâ€™ll tell Joseph to call it off and weâ€™ll get some rest too and meet back when everybodyâ€™s is better condition.â€
â€œThat sounds like a great plan.â€
* * *
They returned to Josephâ€™s apartment and told him to rest for the day. Then the three tried Miss Edington but no one was home. Ingerton didnâ€™t answer his telephone. Sanderson was out of town. They found Jake Wessenâ€™s address in the telephone directory but the office was locked up and dark. They finally went their various ways.
Joell purchased a little snub-nosed .38 revolver and bullets to defend himself with.
* * *
Over the next few days, Bricker found a lawyer and had a will drawn up, leaving the three volumes of Revelations of Glaaki to Miss Edington and the chrome bear trap and the strange key to Miss Fairfield
* * *
They met again on Sunday, May 20, 1928, at the rectory of St. Sebastianâ€™s Catholic Church in the early afternoon. A thunderstorm growled overhead with a steady fall of rain.
The rectory was a nice, two story brick house that was tastefully, if sparsely, decorated. There were crucifixes on the walls of every room. When they arrived, Father Oein took them into a cozy parlor where they could all sit comfortably. He offered them coffee.
â€œOr something a little stronger,â€ he said.
â€œCoffee will do me fine,â€ Joell said.
Both Father Oein and Joseph felt much better than they had two days before.
â€œSo, Iâ€™m feeling much better today,â€ Father Oein said. â€œThank you all for waiting. So, does anybody have any idea what happened that night?â€
â€œAbout what we saw or what happened after?â€ Joseph said.
â€œI mean â€¦ I just feel like I need someone elseâ€™s opinion to piece it all together to make sure that Iâ€™m not the only person who experienced this.â€
â€œWell, I donâ€™t have an incredibly logical explanation for that,â€ Joell said. â€œAside from something strange or outside of our normal realms of happening underneath the carnival.â€
â€œWouldnâ€™t be the first time,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œThat carnival seems â€¦ such an unholy place,â€ Father Oein said.
He wanted to go over what he experienced with everyone and they all spoke of the things they had seen and heard under the carnival. Father Oein learned, for the first time, that the voice that had called out to Ingerton had been one of the barkers at the carnival, at least according to Bricker. Miss Fairfield told of Huxtableâ€™s arrest.
â€œWhy havenâ€™t the cops done anything?â€ Joseph asked her.
â€œIâ€™m just a secretary,â€ she said.
â€œWhat happened to Dr. Huxtable? Didnâ€™t he go and tell the cops?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Father Oein said. â€œI got out of there.â€
â€œHe left before we got out of there.â€
â€œSo, he went back and they found nothing? Did he go to the right grave?â€
â€œKnowing him, I hardly think so,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œI mean, I just met the man, but â€¦ thatâ€™s not much to go off of after just a few hours.â€
â€œThe name on it was John Smith, so â€¦â€ Joell said.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of John Smiths,â€ Joseph said.
â€œThereâ€™s a possibility, we have to keep in mind, maybe itâ€™s a grave thatâ€™s written differently on the manifests of the cemetery.â€
â€œOr, thereâ€™s a lot of them. They couldâ€™ve moved a gravestone.â€
â€œA lot of them?â€ Father Oein said.
â€œLetâ€™s leave it at that.â€
â€œYeah. I just canâ€™t imagine what kind of person you would have to be to align themselves with those things that we saw.â€
â€œWell, in any case, thereâ€™s a child missing, thereâ€™s a girl missing, and thereâ€™s a man without an arm because of this, so â€¦â€ Joell said.
They also noted others went missing back in 1918 so it was nothing new. Joell pointed out it was more frequent than it was before but it was no new kind of occurrence. Joseph asked about Wessen as he had been meaning to ask the man if he could talk to the police superintendent. Joell noted his office had been dark and silent. Heâ€™d visited it several times in the last three days.
â€œKnowing he went off on his own and Milo separated from him, Iâ€™m not sure we can be very optimistic about that,â€ he said.
â€œAll I know is that, if nothing spiritual is going to be done about this, youâ€™ll just have to take it into your own hands,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œThatâ€™s kind of what Iâ€™m about,â€ Joell said.
Father Oein was feeling pessimistic about his religion, God, and Christianity on a whole. He figured since God allowed something like this to happen, he would have to do something to stop it himself. He didnâ€™t believe he could trust God to deal with the terrible situation. His sermons in church had been short and dark that day. His parishioners were unsure how to react to it but everyone seemed uncomfortable.
He had even prepared a good amount of holy water in the event they returned to the carnival. He regretted using the bottle of holy water blessed by Pope Pius XI at a special baptism some years before. He would have to fall back on the holy water at hand, blessed crucifixes, and the sacramental bread. He had some knowledge of the occult and guessed they would be useful against demons, vampires, witches, and the like.
Father Oein asked if anyone knew anything more about the man whose voice had come from the darkness. They knew he was one of the carnival barkers and Miss Fairfield noted the man gave her to the creeps. They told him the man tended to get into peopleâ€™s faces and made them nervous or uncomfortable. Joseph wondered if he was sizing people up.
Joell said there was a crowd of people after them in the caves and it made him wonder if there was a group of people or perhaps everyone at the carnival involved. He also pointed out all of the workers live there in houses behind the carnival. He was suspicious of the barn that stood near those same buildings. He noted heâ€™d been thinking they went in through the sewer but left through the graveyard.
â€œWhere did the other people come from?â€ he asked. â€œWhich means there must be some other entrance in there unless they all crawled through the sewer. But I donâ€™t think so.â€
Father Oein pointed out there were three caves on the other side of the pond and the cave where the things were. He noted there was a direction they didnâ€™t go and thatâ€™s where the people came from. Joell said it made him think there was an entrance somewhere else or they could get in through the carnival somewhere. He thought all he could piece together was that the people who worked at the carnival were taking individuals and sacrificing them to the demons theyâ€™d seen in the caves. Joell said it seemed likely but he didnâ€™t know how they were doing it. He also noted they had found the strange slime and there didnâ€™t seem to be any connection with that yet. Then there were the â€˜demonsâ€™ asking for dead bodies - rotten flesh.
â€œBut why do they need us?â€ Father Oein asked. â€œIt was asking us, specifically, to bring it to them. I donâ€™t understand why, why that was â€¦ why they needed our help.â€
â€œI do believe they said they werenâ€™t allowed to get them,â€ Joell said. â€œBut, if no one was looking, I donâ€™t see why they couldnâ€™t do it anyways. So â€¦â€
â€œSo thereâ€™s some connection between the people working the carnival and the things underneath the cemetery.â€
â€œI suppose so.â€
â€œWhat do we want to do about this?â€
â€œMiss Fairfield and Mr. Bricker, I first met you when we went into that dream place. And it seemed like you had some prior experience. Do you have â€¦ did you have anything similar to this in any of your adventures?â€
Miss Fairfield and Bricker looked at each other. Father Oein poured himself a glass of scotch and sat back down to take it all in. Then the two started talking. They told everything.
They told them of their trip to North Carolina in the summer of 1927 and the missing child at Brown Mountain Beach. They related their search for the child, the strange carvings and markings, and their entrance into the caves under Brown Mountain. They told them of the strange, hexagonal tunnels and the things within. They related how they found gates that connected the interior of the mountain to the surface and how they had left some of their number in the tunnels, only to return to find them missing. They told of the fight with the horrible creatures and of William Avery Rockefeller, their friend, whose brain had been removed and put into cylinder and how they talked to it. They told how they forced one of the creatures to return Rockefellerâ€™s brain to his body and how his servant had died so the thing had placed his brain into another body. They told of the gate that Miss Edington had gone through to retrieve the child and how the things had chased them in the end. They related that strange things had been happening to them since, as if the things were trying to ruin them.
They also told of their trip to Florida in October, wherein Bricker had inherited a house from a distant cousin. They had taken a boat to the terrible little village of New Dunwich and found it decrepit and terrible. They only saw a single person there and the inherited house was apparently haunted as strange things happened: Bricker got pushed down the stairs, words formed on the walls, images in the photographs moved, and the like. They talked to the only man in the village and found him in a bathtub filled with formaldehyde, but then he had attacked them. They had destroyed other dead bodies there as well. They later saw a terrible god appear - a combination of a turtle and a slug with terrible metal spines. Later, a black man had arrived and, when they followed him, they were attacked by the entire village which they somehow managed to wipe out though Miss Fairfield had been struck by a magical spell that injured her and left her looking years older. They burned down most of the houses in the village, the house with the formaldehyde exploding. The ghost seemed to have vanished. Finally, the man who had brought them there returned in his boat and they had escaped, Bricker handing over the deed to the property to him when they left.
They also related their strange adventure in the dream of Howard Phillips in November. Joell had been there for that as well. A psychologist from Dexter Asylum had a patient who wrote as if he was at an address on College Street. They had found the house deserted but with a warm spot in the bed upstairs. Investigation led them to his friend and then to a Chinaman in Chinatown who had sold some draught to him. That led them to the psychologist Endecott, who had helped them enter into Phillipsâ€™ dream where they dealt with terrible things with tentacles for faces and eventually helped the young man escape from his nightmare. In Chinatown, they had also noticed Lily Mitchell and the pygmy Chinamen.
It was 4 p.m. by the time they had finished relating the stories. If it had not been for what they had seen under the carnival, the other two men would not have believed a word of it. Father Oein was, in fact, angry that such things happened and were allowed to happen when they shouldnâ€™t even exist in the first place.
Where is God? he thought.
He wanted to put a stop to whatever horror was going on there. The rain came down outside. He noted that with the thunderstorm, there probably wouldnâ€™t be many people at the carnival.
Miss Fairfield wondered if the people chasing them in the caves had seen their faces. After some short discussion, Bricker figured the only one they might have seen clearly was Milo James as he had hung on the ladder under the false grave. Light had flashed up from below. He was unsure, however, if they would have gotten a good look at the man.
â€œSo, from your stories, when thereâ€™s a group of people doing these â€¦ things, itâ€™s not very easy to just â€¦ combat them,â€ Joell said.
Bricker and Miss Fairfield pointed out they had wiped out the entire town of New Dunwich and burned down nearly all of the buildings in the village. Joell noted they were not heavily armed and might not be equipped to take on a large cult.
Father Oein wanted to know what they were trying to accomplish by going there. He said he thought they knew what was happening to the missing people. Miss Fairfield noted that though they might not be able to save those who had already been kidnapped, they might be able to stop further kidnappings.
â€œSo how do you think we go about shutting the carnival down for good?â€ Father Oein asked.
â€œIs it really the carnival or is it just the creatures?â€ Miss Fairfield asked.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t feel so bad seeing the carnival disappear,â€ Father Oein said.
He felt it was too close to the two cemeteries.
â€œWell, I donâ€™t want to crawl through the sewer again,â€ Joell said.
â€œNo,â€ Father Oein said. â€œNo.â€
â€œI think weâ€™re all in agreement on that. I think, if we go back there, thatâ€™s not our best option.â€
Joseph suggested searching the graveyard again but Joell pointed out they searched it three times and only found anything once. He didnâ€™t think it would be very fruitful but it might be an option. Miss Fairfield suggested whatever entrance the other people had used. Joell suggested trying to search the houses but admitted that would be a shot in the dark at best. He also thought they would need more equipment to go in. When Father Oein pointed out he had crucifixes, holy water, and bibles, Joell said he was thinking more about things that could put holes in people rather than holy things.
â€œSo you all want to go get guns?â€ Father Oein said.
â€œI was thinking eitherâ”€â€ Joell said.
â€œI already got mine,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œEither we go in there with some protection and some plan to be able to find out whatâ€™s going on and deal with problems or we go down and talk to those things again,â€ Joell said.
â€œIâ€™m not talking to those things again,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œIâ€™m not keen on either of the plans honestly.â€
â€œWell, I will take what I deem necessary and I would only hope that you all do the same.â€
â€œI think we need to get back into the cave to investigate, or we need to see if thereâ€™s something suspicious in those houses. Either way, it seems to me that, unless we have some other way of finding out whatâ€™s going on at this carnival, the houses are probably the best bet. Or off limits areas.â€
They discussed the file of the police superintendent but Joell noted only Sanderson might be able to get to look at it. Miss Fairfield said she could look at the newspaper archives. Father Oein noted they would have the way they entered the first time at least guarded. Miss Fairfield was of the opinion they should talk to Kent Howard and try to learn how he got into it. They discussed talking to him.
Joseph and Father Oein wanted to go to the carnival so Joell gave them the four tickets he had left over from the last time theyâ€™d visited.
* * *
Bricker went to the police precinct nearest Swan Point Cemetery. By sheer luck, the desk sergeant there recognized the man. Heâ€™d actually worked on his automobile at one time and fixed it. The sergeant was happy to let him peruse the public record files of closed cases.
Bricker looked through the files, trying to find out anything he could about the carnival in 1918.
* * *
Joell and Miss Fairfield went to the Rhode Island Hospital where they learned Kent Howard had been transferred to Butler Sanitarium.
â€œNot surprising,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
They went from there to the police precinct where Bricker had headed. When they mentioned his name, the desk sergeant seemed pleased and told them a long and boring story about the man fixing his automobile. He was happy to take them back to the room where Bricker worked. They all set to searching for information on their case.
* * *
Joseph Johnson and Father Oein, the latter in civilian clothes, went to the North Star Amusement Arcade and Pleasure Pier. Father Oein parked in the parking lot and they entered the wet carnival under the pouring rain. Though the rides were not running, the games and inside attractions were still open. It wasnâ€™t particularly crowded.
They walked around the park, getting the lay of the land.
Joseph visited the shooting gallery and found the concrete building with the open front over the counter. The man running it was Hispanic and dressed like a cowboy. The ticket got him a .22 rifle with a full magazine of six shots. Both men noticed the building was very solid, made of concrete, and had very thick walls. There were also wooden interior walls that were heavily baffled to catch the bullets. They both realized that would also make the building sound proof if the shutters over the front were pulled closed.
Towards the back of the building was a duck pond filled with water. There were stationary and moving targets. Joseph was disappointed to find there were no prizes for shooting in the gallery but he enjoyed it anyway.
After that, they returned to the games fairway to the fortune teller booth. The small cottage had several wooden signs shaped like a palm or a teacup or a crystal ball or a tarot card with captions noting any or all of them could be used to see someoneâ€™s future. The name â€œMadam Zarahâ€ was over the door.
The two men entered the quaint little building which smelled of incense and spices and fried onions and cigarette smoke. The single-room building was broken up by hanging curtains of clashing colors. Even the wallpaper was of a color and style that clashed with the curtains around it. Madam Zarah sat behind a small table with something round atop it covered with a purple silk cloth. She was middle aged and had dark hair.
â€œAh, visitors,â€ she said in a thick European accent. â€œI sense â€¦ you are in search of answers.â€
â€œHow vague,â€ Father Oein said under his breath.
â€œPlease!â€ Madam Zarah said. â€œWho wishes their fortune told?â€
Joseph raised his hand and she gestured towards the chair in front of her.
â€œCome!â€ she said. â€œSit! Sit! Ticket!â€
He held out the ticket and she took it, tucking it away somewhere.
â€œWhat do you wish?â€ she asked. â€œDo you wish to know your future through the cards or the palm? Do you wish me to read your tea leaves or perhaps we could consult the crystal?â€
â€œThe cards,â€ Joseph said.
â€œThe tarot cards!â€ she said. â€œYes.â€
She slid the round thing under the silk aside and pulled out a small deck of cards. She looked through them and then looked at him very carefully.
â€œI think this represents you,â€ she said, putting the Knight of Swords face up on the table.
She handed Joseph the cards, bidding him to shuffle them until they felt right in his hand.
â€œAnd then â€¦ and then â€¦ weâ€™ll see your future,â€ she said dramatically.
He shuffled the cards and she took them back.
â€œI will now cut the cards because fate and chance must also â€¦ play a part,â€ she said. â€œThis card represents your past.â€
She put down the first card. It was the Ten of Pentacles.
â€œThis is your past,â€ she said. â€œIt could mean that somewhere in your past your had financial success. Did you have a lemonade stand as a child?â€
â€œShe got you,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œSomewhere there was money â€¦ but the card is inverted!â€ she went on. â€œNotice how it is upside down. When you look at it, it is upside down. So, you lost money in the past. It was â€¦ some time ago? Do you remember? Do you remember losing money in the past? Maybe it was just a few days ago. Or perhaps it was long ago. Have you lost money in the past?â€
â€œYes,â€ Joseph said.
â€œA good deal of money. That is it. That is what it shows.â€
She drew another card, this one the Ace of Wands.
â€œThis is your present!â€ she said. â€œNow your present shows a new beginning. But, as you can see, it is inverted, so some dark thing has started recently. Your present is filled with darkness and despair.â€
â€œUh â€¦ kinda â€¦â€ Joseph said.
â€œMadam Zarah sees all!â€
The third card was the Four of Cups but it was not inverted this time.
â€œAh!â€ Madam Zarah said. â€œIn your future, I see â€¦ boredom. There is dissatisfaction with what youâ€™re being offered. Youâ€™re â€¦ quiescent. Youâ€™re wishing for some excitement in your life, are you not?â€
â€œYeah!â€ Joseph said.
â€œAh, Madam Zarah knows. Madam Zarah knows all. She sees all. She knows all.â€
She drew the last card.
â€œThis represents your ultimate fate,â€ she said.
She put down the Eight of Pentacles. It was upright.
â€œIn your fate, I see hard work,â€ Madam Zarah said. â€œA focused effort. You are laying the groundwork for something greater in the future. Perhaps a family. Perhaps friends that you are aiding in some endeavor for something good. As you can see, the card is upright. That is the reading! That is all. I feel the spirits have drifted away.â€
She collected the cards from the table and tucked them into a small, wooden box.
Joseph was a little unnerved by the accuracy of the past and present predictions. He had lost $500 a week or so ago and dark and dreadful things were filling his life at present.
â€œPet,â€ Father Oein said, realizing the things sheâ€™d said have been very vague. â€œJust like the Bible, am I right?â€
She looked at him.
â€œDo you want your fortune told?â€ Joseph asked Father Oein.
â€œI do,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œAh!â€ Madam Zarah said, smiling. â€œYour hand? Do you wish the crystal? Some of strong mind and will can sometimes see things in the crystal that even Madam Zarah cannot see.â€
â€œLetâ€™s do the crystal,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œTicket,â€ she said.
She took his ticket and shushed Joseph out of the chair. She pushed the round object back into the center of the small table and lifted the silk scarf, revealing a crystal ball underneath.
â€œSit. Sit. Sit.â€ she said.
Father Oein sat down.
â€œNow, look into the crystal,â€ she said. â€œIt is said those with strong minds will sometimes see a light in the crystal.â€
A glow started to emanate from the crystal ball.
â€œSometimes,â€ she continued. â€œBut only those with strong minds can create â€¦ oh! Oh! Oh! Tell me! Look deep! Concentrate. What do you see? And then I will tell you what I see. What do you see? Do you see anything?â€
â€œI â€¦ see a light,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œAh, the light. You are of strong mind and character, obviously. I can see â€¦ I am seeing â€¦ I am seeing â€¦ that you are searching for something. I am seeing you are looking to find out â€¦ things. Things about â€¦ truth. Youâ€™re looking for truth. You have recently been disillusioned about things, about things that were so very, so very important to you. Very important to you things. And â€¦ and now you are looking for truth. Are you looking for truth? Do you really wish to find it?â€
â€œYeah â€¦â€ he said slowly.
â€œMadam Zarah knows!â€ she said. â€œShe sees all. She is the seer. Thatâ€™s where that word comes from. All right. So. You are looking for a certain truth. It lies â€¦ it lies both within you and in the world. But you must not give up hope! Because the truth is there and once you find it, once you find the truth â€¦ then it will set you free.â€
He looked up at her.
â€œSo thatâ€™s what Madam Zarah sees,â€ she said. â€œ Do you see anything? Look deep. Look deep. What do you see? What do you see?â€
â€œA heavenly light,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s holy.â€
â€œYes! Yes! Perhaps the things â€¦ the things that you did not believe in are merely hidden. Hidden by a mask of deception and lies! Those are what you must think about.â€
â€œSo â€¦ the things that I seek are hidden. Sure.â€
â€œBy deceptions and lies.â€
The light dimmed.
â€œAh!â€ she said. â€œThat is all the spirits have to tell us. That is all that Madam â€¦ I am exhausted!â€
She leaned her head back and put the back of her hand to her forehead.
â€œThe spirits have taken so much from me,â€ she said.
She tapped her chest with the other hand and made little, exhausted noises.
â€œSuch a powerful mind you have,â€ she said. â€œYou are your friend both. Such â€¦ such â€¦ Madam Zarah will need a moment. But thank you. Thank you for coming and enjoy the carnival.â€
â€œI think we need to give Madam â€¦â€ Father Oein said.
â€œZarah,â€ she said. â€œMadam Zarah from Romania. From Romania. Madam Zarah.â€
As they left, they heard a clicking noise behind them and Father Oein turned to see Madam Zarah lighting a cigarette and taking a drag.
â€œOh yes,â€ she said when she noticed him looking. She blew out a puff of smoke. â€œNo, I donâ€™t see any spirits in the smoke this time. This time. This time.â€
The two men left.
Father Oein went to the Tunnel of Terrors. The large wooden building, two stories high in the front and three in the rear, had a faÃ§ade painted to resemble an old castle. The little carts on the track were shaped like coffins. It was about what Father Oein expected - corny and hokey things trying to be scary or frightening. The entire ride lasted more than five minutes and, though somewhat entertaining, it was nothing special. He could see the carts ahead and behind him sometimes as the track twisted and turned often. Screams and laugher echoed through the building.
* * *