* * *
It was some four hours later when they heard someone approaching. They saw two lights coming from the area of the main cavern as well. To Joell and Miss Fairfield, it sounded like there were three sets of footsteps. The men came into the cave, the barker in the red coat with the waxed mustache on the left; Rondo Moresby, the Most Horrible Man in America, on the right; and Jonathan Boom of the amusement park security in the back without a flashlight. The barker was giggling as they entered.
The three stopped when they got far enough into the cave for their lights to fall upon those nearest to the cage. They seemed surprised to see anyone else in there. Bricker took a step out of his cover. He saw the man in the back, whom heâ€™d never seen before, had a large pistol on his belt and carried a ring of keys in his hand. He stepped towards the man just as he started to turn his way, and fired both barrels. The blast blew the manâ€™s head apart and flung his body towards Sanderson, who was soaked in brains, bone, blood, and gore. Though pellets struck the rocks around the man and even his coat, their velocity had been slowed enough by the body not to hurt him.
James, closer to the cage, stepped out from the wall and pointed his pistol at the two people with lights.
The man in the red coat and top hat laughed uproariously.
â€œLook at that!â€ he cried out.
Then he turned and flung himself at Bricker, dropping the flashlight and trying to beat on him with both hands.
â€œWoo!â€ he screamed. â€œWelcome to the carnival!â€
The man swung his fists like a professional boxer. Bricker ducked under the first blow and to one side of the second.
â€œWeâ€™re just coming down to have some fun!â€ the man screamed in his face.
Miss Fairfield turned on her flashlight, shining it on the man. He had dropped his flashlight and it had gone out. She took a step forward, raised her revolver and fired at the man, hitting him in the right leg. He let out a shout.
â€œYou can see worse than this in the House of Freaks!â€ he cried out, looking at his bleeding leg.
He laughed maniacally.
Dr. Huxtable aimed and fired at Rondo Moresby but the man ducked out of the way. Then Joseph stepped out a few steps from his hiding space and fired his rifle at Moresby as well. He missed but the bullet struck Agent Sanderson in the chest. The man was slammed back against the wall.
Sanderson was angry and he opened fire with his semi-automatic pistol, shooting Moresby in the side.
â€œOh, I didnâ€™t see you over there!â€ Moresby said, turning towards Sanderson.
Virgil Thomas stepped out from the wall and shot Moresby as well, though the man was still standing.
â€œGod damned niggers!â€ Moresby screamed.
Miss Edington fired at the man as well, closing her eyes. The bullet ricocheted off the cave wall near Brickerâ€™s head. Joell stepped out from the wall to stand by James and shot Moresby in the left foot.
â€œYou sons of bitches!â€ Moresby shrieked as he crashed to the floor and lay still.
Bricker, still scuffling with the barker, punched the man in the face.
â€œThat all yâ€™ got!?!â€ the man screamed. â€œWhy donâ€™t you come up and ride on the carousel!?! Drop your pants!â€
James rushed the man and fired at him with a scream, hitting him in the left hand. It blew a hole in the hand and a finger flew off, hitting Bricker in the chest. Blood squirted from the hand and the man fell to the ground.
Miss Fairfield ran to the corpse of Boom and grabbed the keys from the ground. Agent Sanderson checked Moresby and found the man dead. James reached the red-coated barker and found him alive so put a bullet in the back of his head. Agent Sanderson frowned at the cold-blooded murder, audibly grunting, angrily.
â€œWhat the hell is wrong with you, Sanderson?â€ James cried out. â€œYou got something to say?â€
â€œThis is evidence!â€ Agent Sanderson said. â€œThis is the evidence we needed!â€
He was very angry.
Miss Fairfield noticed several new keys on the ring but quickly found the big iron key amidst them. She opened the iron door and the two trapped within scrambled to the back of the cage, terrified.
â€œWeâ€™re going to have to grab them,â€ Huxtable said.
Joell was of the opinion they might be able to calm the two down but Dr. Huxtable noted he had tried to talk to them. They were far too far gone. He also pointed out gunshots were loud and they needed to go.
Miss Fairfield went for the girl and she started screaming and tried to push them off. Joell helped to get hold of her. She pissed all over herself. Bricker and Joseph Johnson grabbed Freddie Pendergast and the boy emptied his bowels in terror. Dr. Huxtable stepped back as they dragged them from the terrible cell.
Joseph drew Boomâ€™s gun from its holster and took it to Father Oein, who kept the weapon.
They fled the place, heading for the stairs leading back to the mausoleum, stopping at the tunnel that led to it. There was a short argument as to whether they should go out of the secret grave entrance or the mausoleum. Joell was convinced they should try to get out through the grave. Freddie Pendergast and Lucy Pringle shrieked in terror as they talked.
â€œAre you going to struggle with these two as you climb a ladder?â€ Joseph said.
â€œI say mausoleum,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œWe might have to crawl out through the sewer pipe.â€
â€œWeâ€™re not going out through the sewer pipe.â€
They realized the ladder was not an option with two struggling people. Dr. Huxtable said theyâ€™d get Gabriel to help them. Joell noted Gabriel might know another exit. They talked about the dead bodies outside the cage and using them for Gabriel and his people. Joseph started calling quietly for Gabriel.
They finally headed up the steps to the mausoleum. At the top, Dr. Huxtable and Father Oein pushed up on the ceiling and it pivoted up. They all got into the mausoleum, Pendergast and Miss Pringle still screaming, though their throats were getting hoarse. Dr. Huxtable tried the iron door but found there was no actual handle, just a keyhole. It was locked shut. Bricker ran over and tapped on the door but nothing happened.
â€œSomeone needs to go get â€˜em,â€ Father Oein said. â€œI canâ€™t.â€
â€œSomebody needs to get the key!â€ Joell said. â€œWe need to get out of here as quickly as we can. Everybodyâ€™s holding people, we can stay here. Everybody else, go get the key.â€
Dr. Huxtable, Father Oein, Miss Edington, Virgil Thomas, James, and Agent Sanderson rushed back down the stairs. They left the tunnel, Dr. Huxtable and Father Oein stopping at the entrance, neither of them able to get nearer the dead bodies. The other four continued past the terrible things and followed the cave entrance to the right that James recognized. They turned into the cave of the ghouls.
A half dozen of the things were there, apparently talking quietly. The room stank of rotten meat and the bones scattered around were mute evidence as to the feast the horrible things had.
â€œGabriel?â€ Miss Edington said.
One of the ghouls laughed and stepped forward.
â€œIs that you making all that racket out there?â€ it said.
â€œHey buddy,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œSo â€¦â€ it said.
â€œWe need a key to get out,â€ James said.
â€œOh â€¦ are one of you going to stay with us?â€ it said.
â€œWe left you some bodies,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œOh yes,â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œIâ€™m sure theyâ€™re very fresh,â€ it said.
â€œYeah, for now,â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œTheyâ€™re not going to leave their own to be eaten by us!â€ Gabriel said.
â€œLook, itâ€™s the best we can offer you,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œItâ€™s not good enough,â€ Gabriel said. â€œItâ€™s not. What else?â€
It looked at Agent Sanderson.
â€œWho are you?â€ it said.
â€œIâ€™m just ready to get out of here, buddy,â€ he said.
â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€ Gabriel said.
â€œUh â€¦ Sanderson,â€ the Bureau Agent said.
Heâ€™d been trying to think of a fake name but then blurted out his real one.
â€œWhatâ€™s your first name?â€ Gabriel asked. â€œOr is that your first name?â€
â€œThatâ€™s my first name,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
The ghoul hobbled over and sniffed at the man.
â€œDo I smell good?â€ Agent Sanderson said.
The ghoul turned from him.
â€œWho are you?â€ it asked Miss Edington.
â€œSuzanna,â€ she said. â€œJust call me Suzanna.â€
â€œAh â€¦ Iâ€™m sure the others will be here soon,â€ Gabriel said, obviously displeased. â€œWhatâ€™s it worth to you to get out?â€
â€œWe left you three bodies!â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œNo no no,â€ it replied. â€œI donâ€™t want their bodies. Their bodies are â€¦ too fresh.â€
â€œWhat do you want?â€ James said.
â€œHow about I bring you some rabbits?â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œHow about your real name?â€ the ghoul said. â€œYour full name?â€
â€œBecause you need to give me something for me to let you out.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€
â€œMy name is Gabriel.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s your last name?â€
â€œAll right. Well. All right. My nameâ€™s James Sanderson.â€
â€œJames Sanderson. Whatâ€™s your address?â€
â€œIn case we need to come find you and teach you things.â€
â€œFine. Sounds great.â€
He told the thing his home address.
Iâ€™m just going to move, Agent Sanderson thought. Who cares?
â€œWhat about you â€¦ Suzanna?â€ the thing said to the woman. â€œWhere are you from? Whatâ€™s your address?â€
â€œHmm,â€ she said,.
â€œCâ€™mon, quickly. Iâ€™m sure the gunshots will draw them fairly soon.â€
She told them the address of her house in Georgia. That seemed to throw the thing.
â€œIn Providence?â€ it asked.
She shook her head.
â€œWhere?â€ it asked.
â€œIn Georgia,â€ she said.
â€œOh. I have some cousins there.â€
It turned to James.
â€œWhat is your name?â€ it asked.
â€œJames,â€ he said.
â€œOh. Where do you live?â€
â€œWhat is it to you? What does it matter?â€
â€œPrices must be paid!â€
â€œCan I get a discount?â€ Agent Sanderson quipped.
â€œYou are so funny,â€ the thing muttered at him. â€œIâ€™ll eat you last.â€
James told the creature his address on Somerset Street.
â€œWhat about this one?â€ the thing said, pointing at Virgil Thomas.
Virgil Thomas told the ghoul his name and gave the address Miss Edington had given in Georgia.
â€œItâ€™ll do for now,â€ the ghoul said. â€œIâ€™ll be visiting. Iâ€™ll teach you a spell. I can teach it to you too. And you. Unless you want to live forever â€¦ and then you can stay here with us.â€
It looked them over.
â€œNo?â€ it said. â€œYou want to stay with us?â€
â€œWeâ€™ve got to go,â€ James said. â€œNow.â€
â€œAll right, letâ€™s go,â€ Gabriel said.
It got up and walked towards the cave mouth, itâ€™s hooves clopping on the stone.
â€œOh damn!â€ it said as it reached the entrance to the cave. â€œOne more thing.â€
It reached and clawed Miss Edingtonâ€™s wrist with a single claw, cutting her slightly. It sniffed at the blood and licked it. Then it approached Agent Sanderson.
â€œGive me your mangled hand?â€ it said.
The man did so and he clawed the manâ€™s hand slightly. Then he looked at James expectantly.
â€œWhy do you need my â€¦?â€ James said.
â€œReasons,â€ the ghoul said.
He held out his hand and the ghoul cut it slightly. It did the same with Virgil Thomas.
The ghoul led them past the zombies, collecting Dr. Huxtable and Father Oein, and took them up to the mausoleum, opening the door for them. They fled the place running to the automobiles still parked there.
â€œIâ€™ll be to see you soon!â€ the ghoul called. â€œGood luck!â€
They ran to the cars.
â€œWe need to get these people into the cars!â€ Joell said.
Dr. Huxtable ran to his Rolls Royce and put a tarp over the back seat just before Bricker and Joseph got the shrieking Freddie Pendergast in. Miss Fairfield and Joell got into the back of Agent Sandersonâ€™s Cadillac with Lucy Pringle. James got in the front seat next to Agent Sanderson.
â€œWait, where are we talking these people!?!â€ Joell said.
â€œHospital!â€ Agent Sanderson said. â€œAnd then Iâ€™m calling the police.â€
They all got their motorcars started, Father Oein taking Miss Fairfield and her bicycle. They fled the cemetery and drove to Rhode Island Hospital. They got the two hysterical youths turned over to doctors, who sedated them. Agent Sanderson was on the phone to the police as soon as they arrived. He got police on the scene and a message to Superintendent Oâ€™Neill, who arrived shortly after that.
Dr. Huxtable and James told the doctors what they thought had happened to the two: assault and battery and probably repeated sexual assault. The doctors told them they had sedated the two and were treating them for dehydration and malnutrition. They confirmed that the two appeared to have been sexually assaulted repeatedly.
Superintendent Oâ€™Neill questioned Agent Sanderson and the man told him heâ€™d found them in an underground area set up by people working for the carnival. He told them about the men theyâ€™d gunned down in the caves noting he recognized them as being from the carnival.
â€œQuestion: Do you want to be in on the raid?â€ Superintendent Oâ€™Neill said. â€œWeâ€™re going to hit them tonight.â€
â€œAbsolutely!â€ Agent Sanderson said.
A doctor saw Agent Sanderson but decided to leave the rifle bullet in the man as it was very close to his heart. They patched him up as best they were able. Virgil Thomas also got iodine and alcohol for the four who had been cut by Gabriel.
Superintendent Oâ€™Neill approached each of them to see if they would go on the raid to help as they were familiar with the caves under the carnival, either in an advisory position or as part of the raiders. He told Agent Sanderson he was planning to have a joint raid on the carnival by Providence County Sheriffâ€™s Office, Providence Police, Pawtucket Police, and the Rhode Island State Police. He planned to arrest everyone there and sort them out afterwards. Plans were already in place and he went off to make telephone calls and plan the actual raid on the carnival.
When he learned Miss Fairfield was with the newspaper, Superintendent Oâ€™Neill threatened her not to reveal anything they discussed until the next day at the very earliest.