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Dark Carnival Session Five Part 1 - Added Complications

Max_Writer

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Monday, February 20, 2017

 

(After playing the Call of Cthulhu scenario “Dark Carnival†by David A. Hargrave from Curse of the Chthonians Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with Kyle Matheson, Hannah Gambino, Collin Townsend, Katelyn Hogan, Ashton LeBlanc, Ben Abbott, Yorie Latimer, Ambralyn Tucker, and Joey Scott.)

 

Dr. Carl Huxtable had been ill for several days, ever since he had gone into the sewers under the carnival. He went to his doctor and was given medicine to clean out his system. Additionally, he had gotten a terrible fear of filth, excrement, and dirt. Even sick, he had made sure to clean his house every day. He couldn’t stand the thought of filth anymore.

 

On Monday, May 21, 1928, he finally went back to work at Brown University. He had a decent day and was at home that evening when a knock came at his front door.

 

“Who is it?†he called.

 

Another knock came from the front door.

 

“No!†he called.

 

“Is this the residence of Dr. Carl Huxtable?†a voice came through the door.

 

“Sir Dr. Carl Huxtable!â€

 

He recognized the voice of Carl Denim from the carnival.

 

“I recognize your voice sir,†he called through the door. “What are you doing at my house?â€

 

“Well, I’m here to talk to you,†Denim said. “You wanted to see some … some magic, didn’t you?â€

 

“Not at my house!â€

 

“Well, you’re in the telephone directory and I thought it would be more prudent to come visit you. And talk to you about this.â€

 

“Oh God.â€

 

He opened the door. Carl Denim stood on the stoop. He was dressed in his suit and top hat from the Star Studded Show. He smiled at Dr. Huxtable.

 

“Can I come in?†he asked.

 

Dr. Huxtable looked him up and down for any sign of dirt or filth. The man appeared to be quite clean.

 

“You may come in,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

He led the man into the spic-and-span parlor that still smelled of disinfectant. Denim took a seat.

 

“So, Dr. Huxtable!†he said. “You were … uh … you were interested in some … you called it dark magic, didn’t you.â€

 

Dr. Huxtable poured them both a glass of bourbon neat. Denim took the proffered drink and sipped at it.

 

“Is that correct?†he asked.

 

“Yes,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“Ah. Well, I put out some feelers and I talked to … certain people at the carnival, if you know what I mean.â€

 

“I think so.â€

 

“They want to know … what you have to offer in return. Do you have some magic in return that might be useful to use … to them, actually. I’m just a go-between, you might say.â€

 

“So this is a … you show me, I show you sort of deal?â€

 

“Yes, exactly!â€

 

“Hm. I may have … something … powerful … that I have not tried yet.â€

 

“Ah. What? What is it?â€

 

“I cannot … I do not feel comfortable telling … you right now.â€

 

“Why not? I’m very trustworthy you know.â€

 

“Okay, you seem trustworthy! I know a spell that can create a gate.â€

 

“Oh.â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“You weren’t at the carnival a few nights … last week, were you?â€

 

“I go to the carnival every night.â€

 

“Oh, I see.â€

 

“I love the ponies.â€

 

“Mmm. Interesting. Anyway, very well. Can you show me what you learned this from? Do you have any … items of mystical nature?â€

 

“My daddy taught me.â€

 

“Your father. Ah.â€

 

“And he’s in England so … I guess we’ll never really know if I’m telling the truth.â€

 

“Your father … your father … oh, very well. You see, like I said, I’ve been sent to talk to you about it before someone else comes to talk to you about it and possibly show you some things.â€

 

“Everyone knows where I live?â€

 

“You’re in the directory. The telephone directory.â€

 

“I need to get out of there.â€

 

“Well, everyone’s in there. Why wouldn’t you be in the telephone directory? If you have a telephone. Anyway.â€

 

“I need to get rid of my telephone.â€

 

“So … uh … you can show … you can show … you can show someone doing … how to do this, right?â€

 

“I … possibly. If I was receiving something of equal worth.â€

 

“All right, very well. In a night or two hence …â€

 

“A night or two?â€

 

“Yes. I’ll inform the people who are interested in this and they can come to your house and show you something.â€

 

“Oh!â€

 

“But they’re going to want to be shown something as well.â€

 

Denim, who’d been sipping at the bourbon, finished it off and stood up.

 

“Great!†he said. “That’s just great. And I hope you enjoy the carnival the next time you come!â€

 

“Oh yes,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“Just be careful. Just be careful.â€

 

“I’ll be careful.â€

 

Denim left the house.

 

Dr. Huxtable picked up the telephone.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Bureau of Intelligence Agent Ramsey Sanderson had been out of Providence for nearly a week, returning on Monday, May 21. He had been called to Washington D.C. again, this time for a special briefing with Director J. Edgar Hoover. He had been told that, due to a raid in February in Massachusetts, certain groups getting together might prove a danger to the United States and Bureau Agents should keep a close eye on them. If there was ever mention of a Temple of Dagon, he was ordered to immediately contact the Capitol.

 

Agent Sanderson was at home at his large house on Congdon Street, alone, as usual. The house seemed too large since his wife had left him. He only used a few of the rooms. The rest of the structure was dark and the whole place lonely.

 

He was surprised when the telephone rang. No one ever telephoned him. He picked up the receiver.

 

“Hello?†he said.

 

“Yes, is this Mr. Sanderson?†Dr. Huxtable’s voice crackled over the line.

 

“Yes, who may I ask is calling?â€

 

“Can you not tell by the voice? It is me, Sir Dr. Carl Huxtable once again. Aha.â€

 

“What can I help you with?â€

 

“What can’t you help me with? I have so many problems.â€

 

“I’m not a psychologist.â€

 

“Well, I am a psychologist. That may be one of the things I don’t need you for. What I could use you for is police protection.â€

 

“From what?â€

 

“From everything.â€

 

“That’s very vague.â€

 

“We are living in dark times, my friend. I need much help. Please.â€

 

“I don’t think I can be … I already have a job. Full time.â€

 

“Do you?â€

 

“That’s insulting!â€

 

“Well, you’re home right now, I figured if you were a true cop, you’d be out on the streets.â€

 

“Get on with it!â€

 

“I may be having some … people coming to my place tonight, tomorrow night, or … who knows what night from here on out.â€

 

“You’re expecting a robbery?â€

 

“I’m expecting people to come in here and show me some dark things.â€

 

“Okay.â€

 

“And I could really use some help. If you’re free.â€

 

“What’s the pay?â€

 

“We can discuss pay when you arrive.â€

 

“Fair enough.â€

 

“Bring clothes for at least a week and … and, um, I’m going to need you to shower at least twice because I know that you walked through feces, just as I did.â€

 

“Okay. I’ll be over soon.â€

 

Agent Sanderson hung up.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Agent Sanderson arrived at Dr. Huxtable’s house on Meeting Street, only a few blocks away, in his Cadillac. He parked out front and went to the door without his suitcase, unsure if the other man would actually let him in. It was a large house in a nice neighborhood. He knocked.

 

“Who is it?†Dr. Huxtable’s voice called from within.

 

“Sanderson,†Agent Sanderson said.

 

“All right. I need you to stand outside while I inspect you.â€

 

“Okay.â€

 

The front door opened and Dr. Huxtable exited, looking very weary and wary. He walked around the other man, looking him up and down carefully. The man’s salt-and-pepper hair was still damp from the shower he’d taken before coming over. Though looking a little disheveled, he didn’t look dirty and didn’t smell.

 

“Did you not shower as I told you to do?†Dr. Huxtable asked.

 

“Oh, I showered,†the other man growled.

 

“In what?â€

 

“Water!â€

 

“Dirty water?â€

 

“Soap!â€

 

“Is this is clean as cops can get?â€

 

“I suppose so.â€

 

Dr. Huxtable sighed.

 

“Fine,†he finally said. “You can put your bags in the foyer.â€

 

Sanderson brought his bags into the house. It was exceptionally clean, as if a maid had been there mere minutes before. The place smelled of disinfectant.

 

“I don’t know what night these people are coming back but I need you to stay with me and I need you to be my … uh … my guard at night as I sleep,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“All right,†Agent Sanderson said. “I’ll leave during the day for work but I’ll come back after work.â€

 

“Okay. What kind of pay were you expecting?â€

 

“What’re you offering?â€

 

“Give me … give me a number.â€

 

“Since this is a little bit of an inconvenience, say about 15 a night.â€

 

“Hm.â€

 

Dr. Huxtable looked at Agent Sanderson.

 

“I’ll give you 20 if you do the job well,†he finally said.

 

“Okay,†Agent Sanderson said.

 

“Sucker!†Dr. Huxtable said. “All right.â€

 

He set up the other man in one of the three guest rooms upstairs. They retired to the parlor after that.

 

“Have you been in contact with the others?†Dr. Huxtable asked.

 

“Not recently,†Agent Sanderson said.

 

“Well … should we? I’ve been sick. I don’t know what they’re up to.â€

 

“If you want to call them, feel free to.â€

 

“Yes, who should we call?â€

 

“Just call ‘em all up.â€

 

“I can only do one at a time. Who should we call? I know having a phone must be a new concept for you, but some of us have been privileged for a while.â€

 

“How about you just … just go down the line. Bricker …â€

 

“Bricker? Okay.â€

 

He picked up the telephone.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Nigel Bricker heard the telephone ring in his boss’ office. He went into the shop from his tiny house connected to the back of the garage and picked up the receiver.

 

“Hello?†he said.

 

“Is this … Nigel Bricker?†Dr. Huxtable’s voice came through the line. “Or is this one of the other dirty mechanics?â€

 

“Yeah, this is Bricker. Who is this?â€

 

“Can you not tell by the voice? It’s Sir Doctor Carl Huxtable. The one and only. Forever and ever.â€

 

Bricker hung up.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

“Oh, I think we had a bad connection,†Dr. Huxtable said to Agent Sanderson.

 

“Okay,†Agent Sanderson said.

 

“I’m not very good at talking to dirty people. Maybe it’s more in your line. Would you like to call Bricker back?â€

 

“Sure, I’ll call Bricker back.â€

 

“Here you go.â€

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Bricker had gotten back to his tiny, one-room apartment when the telephone rang again. He went back to the office.

 

“Hello?†he said, picking up the receiver.

 

“Bricker, this is Sanderson,†Agent Sanderson’s voice growled over the line.

 

“Oh, Sanderson. I’m sorry; I thought it was Huxtable again.â€

 

“It’s okay.â€

 

“Is that Bricker?†Dr. Huxtable’s voice rang in the background.

 

“Wait, he’s not there with you, is he?†Bricker said.

 

“He is,†Agent Sanderson said. “Sadly. He’s wanting─â€

 

“What’s sad?†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“Stop talking! He’s wanting a job to be done. He’s rounding us all up.â€

 

Bricker sighed.

 

“Okay,†he said.

 

“Tell him he must shower first,†Huxtable said.

 

“Stop talking!†Agent Sanderson said. “He wants … he’s a little crazy right now. Even more so. So he wants you to take a shower.â€

 

“Oh …†Bricker said. “Okay. Do I have to come right now or can I just come later.â€

 

“What do you want? Now or later.â€

 

“What are we talking about,†Dr. Huxtable said. “First you said ‘sad’ and then you said ‘Now or later.’â€

 

“Do you want him to come now or later?â€

 

“To my house?â€

 

“Yes!â€

 

“Tell him to round up the ruffians and meet at my place … as soon as possible. And they should all shower! All of them.â€

 

“Yeah, I’ll try to find the others and meet there soon,†Bricker said.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Miss Edington had spent the last few days visiting with Kent Howard and Lucy Pringle’s families, trying to determine if they had any information that might be of use to her or their investigation. Both of their addresses were in the newspaper and she found their homes, talking with Kent Howard’s parents, Thomas and Elizabeth Howard; and Lucy Pringle’s parents, Albert and Mary Pringle. None of them had any information that seemed connected to the investigation.

 

She learned Kent Howard had been transferred to Butler Hospital, however.

 

She heard Virgil Thomas answer the telephone when it rang that night. She heard him say Bricker’s name and then he came to the room where she was reading to tell her she had a telephone call. She went to the phone.

 

“This is Suzanna,†she said, picking up the telephone receiver.

 

“Hi, this is Bricker,†Bricker said.

 

“Well, hello Mr. Bricker.â€

 

“Yeah … um … apparently Huxtable’s gotten a lead.â€

 

“A lead?â€

 

“Or something. We’re supposed to meet.â€

 

“Where?â€

 

He gave her the address. He’d had to look it up in the telephone directory.

 

“All right then,†she said. “Do you know what we’re doing?â€

 

“With Huxtable … no,†Bricker said.

 

“I don’t like that.â€

 

“I don’t either.â€

 

“All right then. When?â€

 

“As soon as possible.

 

“All right then. Guess I’ll be over there as soon as possible.â€

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Milo James had left Miss Edington’s house on Thursday, May 17, the day after they had gone under the carnival, and had gone to see a doctor to tend to his strange, shriveled condition. The man was unsure what had happened but prescribed him some medication and did what he could.

 

He had spent the rest of the week and Monday working, stopping in to see Kent Howard daily in an attempt to get the man into a lucid state. He got a telephone call to meet at Dr. Huxtable’s house and was given the address.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

After a short discussion at the graveyard on Sunday night, they had decided to return the keys to the security shack in the carnival and then locked back the places they had unlocked. They were surprised to find the chain and padlock back over the entrances of the Tunnel of Terrors.

 

Joell Johnson also got hold of an almanac and found that the next full moon was not for two weeks.

 

He was contacted by his cousin Joseph and they took the trolley to Dr. Huxtable’s house. Joell had a terrible bruise on the side of his face where the undead man had struck him. It looked worse than it felt and it felt terrible. They saw Father Oein’s Model T Ford parked out front when they arrived, as well as Miss Edington’s white Packard.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

They all arrived one at a time, Dr. Huxtable looking them each up and down before allowing them into the house. He stopped Joell Johnson, who he imagined stank of feces. He wondered if the man liked it down in the sewers.

 

“What is your profession again?†he asked the man. “Because you look like you get in hobo fights.â€

 

“I work with the union … sir,†Joell growled.

 

“So, hobo fights.â€

 

Joell just glared at him.

 

“I cannot allow you to come further in my house,†Dr. Huxtable said, feeling his skin crawl at how dirty the man was. “But you can stand in the foyer and not touch anything.â€

 

“I feel so welcomed,†Joell growled.

 

“That is the best I can do. I smell feces on you.â€

 

“Do you own a shower?â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Will you let me use it?â€

 

“If someone will carry you to it and make sure you do not touch anything along the way.â€

 

He looked at the Johnsons.

 

“You two are related, yes?†he asked.

 

“Sadly,†Joell said. “He would say.â€

 

“Brothers?â€

 

“No, cousins,†Joseph said.

 

“Okay,†Dr. Huxtable said. “Would you mind carrying your cousin up to the shower, observing him as he showers, and then you shower afterwards? And then we can begin.â€

 

“I’ll just stay in the foyer,†Joell said.

 

“Or he can stay in the foyer,†Dr. Huxtable said. “But if anyone touches him, they must shower.â€

 

Joseph, James, and Father Oein realized Dr. Huxtable was acting stranger than the last time they had met with him. He seemed to have a phobia about filth now that he hadn’t had when he went through the sewer pipe with the rest of them.

 

Miss Fairfield was the last to arrive, only getting a telephone call at her boarding house from Miss Edington when the woman realized no one else knew her address or telephone number. She found Joell in the foyer while the rest of them were in the parlor through an archway.

 

“Do not touch him!†Dr. Huxtable said, gesturing at Joell.

 

“What?†she said. “What? Why?â€

 

“He is dirty. He’s been in too many hobo fights.â€

 

“Sanderson,†Joell said to the Agent.

 

“Hey, Joell,†Agent Sanderson said.

 

“I’m sure you’re happy to see me. Especially in this state.â€

 

“It’s kind of funny.â€

 

“That’s what I thought. I’ve been trying to contact you though.â€

 

“Have you?â€

 

“Yeah. The carnival’s everything we thought it was and more and, it turns out, the chief of police has a file that he has just for disappearances that happen near the cemetery and the carnival.â€

 

“Well, how about that?â€

 

“I was thinking about getting in contact with you as you could get it from him probably better than any of us could. So, if you’re interested …â€

 

“Well, I’ll look into it. Tomorrow morning. I’ll have it by then.â€

 

“I’m going to go stand in the hobo fight corner.â€

 

“Nothing new.â€

 

“If he’s dirty, why don’t you let him go clean up?†Miss Fairfield asked.

 

“I tried to get someone to carry him up there,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“And watch him,†Father Oein said.

 

“Because every step he takes makes my place dirtier,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“Just lay down newspaper,†Miss Edington said.

 

“If we were living in a normal reality, I would shower,†Joell said, glaring at Dr. Huxtable.

 

“So, I’m sure you’re all wondering why I called you here,†Dr. Huxtable said. “Carl Denim, from the carnival, knows where I live now, and he came here and he wants to show me black magic at my own place.â€

 

“And you thought this was a good idea,†James said.

 

“I think it’s a great idea. He wants to see one of my spells in return for one of their spells.â€

 

“One of your spells?â€

 

“One of your spells?†Joell said.

 

“Yes, I know spells,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“Since when?†James asked.

 

“Since …â€

 

“What have you been keeping from us, Huxtable?â€

 

“Many things.â€

 

He looked them over.

 

“I have employed Sanderson to keep me safe,†he said. “And I would like to employ, maybe, you other people to stay at my house and also keep my safe.â€

 

“I’ll be gone during the day,†Agent Sanderson said.

 

“What did you say?†Dr. Huxtable said to him. “Everything you say sounds like a whisper.â€

 

“Those carnies are cultists,†Miss Fairfield said. “They’re sacrificing people.â€

 

“Yes! But this may be our once chance to see what they are actually capable of and have the upper hand because they are coming to my place. At the carnival, we’re on their ground. At my place, we’re on my ground.â€

 

“Do you think they care either way?†James said.

 

“I don’t know. But this may be the best chance we have unless you want to walk through feces again.â€

 

“Even if all we do is get to single out some people before we fight in a big group, it’s better than going against all of them,†Joell said. “I think it’s a good idea, even if I have to stand in this corner the whole time.â€

 

“Yes!†Dr. Huxtable said. “You could take their coats when they arrive. Or you can take a shower once your cousin carries you up the stairs! I really don’t care.â€

 

“If I cleaned up after my own footsteps, could I take a shower?â€

 

“How well can you clean?â€

 

Miss Fairfield walked over to Joell, grabbed him and threw him over her shoulder, and carried him up the stairs. She took him to the bathroom and deposited him there.

 

“Good-bye Joell,†Dr. Huxtable called after them.

 

He returned in a half hour or so, hair wet and wearing some of Dr. Huxtable’s clothing. Later, Dr. Huxtable burned the towels he used. They finally all got together in the parlor again.

 

“This is great,†Joell said to Dr. Huxtable, sitting in a plush chair in the man’s oversized clothing. “I love your place.â€

 

“That’s what everyone says!†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

Dr. Huxtable noted he had two extra guest bedrooms and he wanted to employ two people to stay there full-time, except when they were at work, to protect him from the carnies. He asked if anyone needed the cash and pointed out he was paying Agent Sanderson $20 a day but would not pay others that much as they were not police. He said he would consider $10 a day though.

 

“So, Dr. Carl Huxtable, how about for a trained marine?†Joseph asked.

 

“A trained marine?†he said. “What weapons do you have, sir?â€

 

“I have a Springfield rifle.â€

 

“I would … I would pay you the same as Sanderson: $20 a day.â€

 

The two agreed he would employ the U.S. Marine. Dr. Huxtable noted that left one guest bedroom left, though he said he was probably well-protected with a police officer and a marine. He said he would take someone else if they wanted to be there and get paid.

 

“I thought you knew spells,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Of course I know spells,†Dr. Huxtable said. “I’ve never used it though.â€

 

Miss Edington listened carefully.

 

“The spell that I know would probably only be good to use once,†Dr. Huxtable said. “And after that … God save this planet.â€

 

Everyone stared at him.

 

“What about you, Bricker?†Dr. Huxtable said. “My car’s making a noise.â€

 

The mechanic just shrugged.

 

“There’s a lot more carnies than people in this room,†Miss Fairfield said. “Doesn’t make sense for you to hire three people to protect you.â€

 

“I feel more protected already,†Dr. Huxtable said. “And I don’t know how many carnies they’re sending to my place. I suspect that Carl Denim will show back up. And I know he’s bringing someone who wants to see my spell. But he did not tell me who. And he did not tell me when. Or why. Or much of anything really. I just know they’re coming back. And I’m scared. But … I think Joell has the right idea, that this would be a good showing of what they do and what they want. And we should go after them when they come. Of course I have many of your phone numbers and I can call the rest of you when it happens.â€

 

They all exchanged information and telephone numbers. Only Miss Fairfield withheld the number at her boarding house from everyone except Miss Edington. She didn’t want men calling her there and didn’t think Mrs.Wicke, who owned and ran the all-woman’s boarding house, would approve. Bricker noted his telephone number was his work and asked them not to telephone him there during the day.

 

“Dear God, Joell,†James said. “That a horrible gash on your face. What happened?â€

 

Joell told them they had gone into the carnival at night after everything was closed. He noted they had gotten the keys from the security office, telling of his failure to break the window and Miss Fairfield’s strength. He said while they were exploring the Tunnel of Terrors, Johnson, Miss Fairfield, and Bricker had been on the ride. Father Oein saw a mysterious hand beckoning him deeper in the ride. He was questioned on whether it was real or not and the priest said it was real. Joell noted a door opened up in the Tunnel of Terrors and their cart went down. When James asked how they had not seen it, Joseph said it was probably a separate mechanism that wasn’t activated before. Miss Fairfield pointed out it was probably how the Pendergast boy got kidnapped.

 

Joell said they followed it down and saw the ghouls, as they called themselves. He noted they talked to them and tried to get the dead body for them. He said Wessen had been there, standing around the altar as well.

 

“He wasn’t talking … if you know what I mean,†he said.

 

“So, you’re feeding them now?†Dr. Huxtable asked, eyes narrowed.

 

“Well, we fed them one.â€

 

“Who?â€

 

“That’s how I got this gash.â€

 

“Did they tell you anything?†James asked. “Wait. What?â€

 

“They did,†Joell said.

 

“You gave them … sustenance and they …â€

 

James pointed at Joell’s face.

 

“No,†Joell said. “It was the zombie.â€

 

“Oh my God,†James said.

 

“You fed them Wessen?†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“No, not Wessen,†Joell said. “Purposefully not Wessen.â€

 

“You fed them a stranger?†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“He was already dead,†Joell said.

 

“Did you get any information?†James said.

 

“Oh yeah,†Joell said.

 

He noted he had tried to take out the zombie with his baseball bat but got socked in the face.

 

“My God Joell!†James said. “What is wrong with you?â€

 

“Everything,†Joell said. “I don’t remember exactly how we got it done but we got him in and … essentially what this … ghoul told us was that … he was a person at one time and so was each and every one of them and they apparently performed some … something …â€

 

“Some ritual?†James said.

 

“… to get them to turn into what they are now.â€

 

“For what purpose?â€

 

“Well, the reason he gave was that life was simpler when you just eat and live forever and don’t have to worry about the gray areas of life like he did back when he was alive during the founding of America, it sounded like, he said. They also told us the carnival people worship a god called Shudde M’ell and they perform rituals on the full moon.â€

 

He told them they talked to the ghouls, who told them they were there before the carnival people came. The things burrowed into the graves in the cemetery and took their meals that way. Miss Fairfield said they had a key to go visit them now, however.

 

“So, are we kosher with them?†James asked.

 

Joell told him the ghouls didn’t really care about them as they were immortal and the humans were not. They didn’t really care about the carnival workers either, but they said the carnival workers thought the ghouls were working for them, though the ghouls didn’t seem to agree.

 

“So, I’m not going to get all shrivelly this time?†James asked.

 

“Not from the ghouls,†Joell said.

 

Joseph made a little “Maybe/maybe not†motion with his hands.

 

Joell noted at the very least one person could go down the ghoul way and open up the grave entrance.

 

“So then we’re suspecting that the carnival workers have taken the kid and not these ghouls?†Dr. Huxtable asked.

 

“They also said that if the boy is down there, if they have the boy, then he’s probably in those caves in some kind of … cage or cell somewhere,†Joell said.

 

“Also, they said that the things that the sculpture is of is a … chthonian,†Joseph said. “Or something like that.â€

 

Dr. Huxtable thought it another name for the Lubalas. He remembered they flew between worlds as well.

 

“The crypt we have to go down in named Whipple,†Joell said. “The ghoul who we talked to and spoke English called himself Gabriel.â€

 

Father Oein shared that they had researched Gabriel Whipple. He told them he was a 17th century inhabitant of Rhode Island, a loner, philanthropist, and knew Joseph Curwen. Whipple vanished in 1705 and was declared dead in 1715. He claimed to go to the first college in America, which would have been Harvard, though he also seemed to refer to Brown University. He noted it was a black basalt crypt with the name Whipple on it.

 

“So, do you all plan to go through the caves again?†Dr. Huxtable asked.

 

“Well, we don’t have to,†Joell said. “But that’s probably where the Pendergast boy is. And if that girl is anywhere around there, that’s probably where she is too.â€

 

“Has anyone else gone missing since we started this quest?â€

 

“Not that I know of. Except for Wessen. But we found him.â€

 

“And there are no feces through the ghoul way, correct?â€

 

“Uh … rotten flesh,†Joseph said.

 

“Oh boy …†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“That’s why I’m suggesting one of us goes through the ghoul way and open up that grave entrance,†Joell said. “So not all of us have to go through the ghoul’s home.â€

 

“Do you want to handle that, Joell?†James said. “You seem most familiar.â€

 

“I mean … he did like me.â€

 

Miss Edington chuckled.

 

“That’s not surprising,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“Oh, they also said we could call to them in basements,†Joseph said. “If that’s pertinent at all.â€

 

“Yeah,†Father Oein said.

 

“What?†Miss Edington said.

 

“How?†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“If you have a basement,†Joseph said.

 

“Let’s go down to my basement!†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“I would much rather do that than go to the cemetery,†Father Oein said. “Give it a try?â€

 

“If there’s anything my house needs, it’s a ghoul tunnel to my basement,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

Then he remembered how filthy the things had been.

 

“I’m going to need one of you to go to the general store and buy a tarp,†he said. “Or … wait. Do I have a tarp?â€

 

He remembered he had a tarp in the shed in his back yard.

 

“Okay, let’s go down to my basement and see how we call them,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“I’m staying up here,†Bricker said, remembering how horrible the dog-like things were.

 

“I’m staying upstairs too,†Joseph said.

 

“You’re the one that suggested we call them from the basement!†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“I’ll go down,†Father Oein said. “They probably want to see a familiar face at least.â€

 

“Okay,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“They terrify me,†Joseph admitted.

 

“They terrify all of us, don’t they?†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“Yeah, that sounds like a really bad idea,†Virgil Thomas said.

 

“I’d really recommend not doing this unless you have a specific question you want to ask them,†Joell said.

 

“Ain’t nothing … is this something you call up, you can put it back down?†Virgil Thomas said. “You can’t put it down …â€

 

“If you made them a deal though, they might protect you against the carnies,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Why?†Virgil Thomas said to her. “Why you doing this? Why would you say something to encourage him to do the dumbest thing I heard so far in this whole conversation? She’s trying to get you killed, I’m afraid. Not that we ain’t all thought about it.â€

 

“I don’t think anyone can stop me from getting killed,†Dr. Huxtable said. “All the weird, black magic people know where I live.â€

 

“Well, you got yourself in a right mess, didn’t you?†Miss Edington said to him.

 

“Eh,†he replied. “I need to go back to England. Leave all this behind.â€

 

“Well, what are we doing?†Agent Sanderson said.

 

Miss Edington told them she had talked to the parents of Kent Howard and Lucy Pringle but that had been a dead end. Dr. Huxtable wanted to investigate the caves further, noting they got frightened of the creatures down there but now they, hopefully, wouldn’t harm them anymore. Joell didn’t think they would. When Miss Edington asked about the sacrifices, Joell noted they did so on the full moon, according to the creature they’d talked to. The next full moon was in two weeks.

 

“So, do we want to go down there when we know that the carnies are going to be down there - at night?†Father Oein said. “Or do we want to go down there during the day when they’ll all be working.â€

 

“Oh, that’s a good idea,†Dr. Huxtable said.

 

“That’s what I was considering too,†Joell said. “However, if we want to go down there, we might want to get as much information as we can in case we need it.â€

 

Joseph wanted to get his gear for spending the night at Dr. Huxtable’s. The good doctor offered to drive him across down for his clothing and his rifle.

 

Before they all left, Joell stopped Agent Sanderson.

 

“Sanderson,†he said.

 

“What?†Agent Sanderson said.

 

“Do you think you’ll need someone to corroborate the story if you’re going after that police superintendent’s file? Because, I do have a big gash in my head.â€

 

“I don’t know … are you saying you don’t think I can go ask my own people?â€

 

“I mean─â€

 

“For files? You think they’re going to interrogate me for some files?â€

 

“I don’t know how the inner workings of the system are.â€

 

“Well clearly!â€

 

Agent Sanderson left the room.

 

“Sheesh,†James said.

 

Huxtable told them all he was going to the library the next day.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

On Tuesday, May 22, 1928, Milo James went to Butler Hospital to work with Kent Howard in the morning. The man was still in terrible shape, rambling about nothing in particular and speaking nonsense. He was unable to get any information from the man or calm him down. He only mentioned “the stink.â€

 

He was getting ready to leave when Dr. Alan Strong from Holmes Sanitarium arrived. He decided to assist the doctor while he tried to get Howard lucid. The man managed to calm Howard down long enough to get him talking about something besides the stink. Howard suddenly looked into the middle distance.

 

“Dead …†he said. “… dead … things … in the graveyard — I wanted my kiss … Oh poor Lucy! The grave is just a trick ─ it’s opening up like a trapdoor! … No, Lucy! Don’t go over there! Don’t you see it? You’ve got to see it? No, don’t run? … Oh my Savior! What’s that … out of the ground ─ I can’t get away … Lucy! … Why is it hot? It’s so hot here. It should be cool. And it smells so bad. … Those things! They’ve got Lucy! … There’s too many of them! I can’t get through. Too many … Dead things … The smell … Maggots dropping and getting all over my new suit … help me grace … can’t anyone hear us? … Oh hail Mary, full of grace, blessed art though above all women that thing coming out of the ground is taking Lucy … No! There’s a rope! It’s got me! Help! … It hurts! Mother, it hurts! Aaagh! Aagh! … I’m free! But something’s wrong. Oh Christ Redeemer! My arm! … Why can I still hear the carnival music from here? We should be too far away? My arm! …â€

 

At that point, Howard petered out and fell back onto the bed. Both Dr. Strong and James tended to him. Drool came from the man’s mouth and his eyes were once again unseeing. They stepped aside to confer on what was said. James had taken notes. Dr. Strong had gone white.

 

“This is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,†he said quietly.

 

Kent Howard suddenly sat straight up in the bed, looked alertly around, and locked eyes with James.

 

“The biggest corpse in the whole wide world must be sitting there under that graveyard,†he said. “Because of the maggots ─ such big maggots must come from a big man’s body, mustn’t they?â€

 

Then his eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed onto the bed.

 

Dr. Strong wrote down what he said as quickly as he could despite both of their shock.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Miss Fairfield took some time before lunch that afternoon, after a photo assignment, to go to the home of Alvin and Edgar Coombs, the two boys who had been the last to see Freddie Pendergast before his disappearance a week before. The door to the small house was answered by a woman in her 30s. She was pretty with short hair.

 

“Yes,†she said. “Can I help you?â€

 

“Uh, yes,†Miss Fairfield said. “Are Alvin and Edgar here?â€

 

“They’re at school. It is Tuesday.â€

 

Miss Fairfield looked at her watch. The woman narrowed her eyes.

 

“Why?†she asked.

 

“Well, I’m─†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Who are you?â€

 

“I’m sure you’ve heard of the missing boy, Freddie.â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Their friend.â€

 

“Yes. He was their friend, yes.â€

 

“Well, he was at the amusement park with─â€

 

“Yes, I’m their mother! I know. What do you want with them?â€

 

“Did they tell you anything?

 

“Who are you!?!â€

 

“I’m Evelyn Fairfield. With the Providence Journal.â€

 

“Oh … with the newspaper?â€

 

The woman touched her hair to make sure it was in place.

 

“Oh,†she said again. “Um … um … I don’t know … I don’t know if I should let them talk to the paper. That could get them into trouble, couldn’t it?â€

 

“Well, no no no,†Miss Fairfield said. “They’re not in any trouble.â€

 

“Well, maybe I should talk to you. Would I get my picture in the paper?â€

 

“Yes, of course.â€

 

“Well … come in.â€

 

She invited the other woman in and offered her some tea. She told Miss Fairfield the boys would not be home until around 3:30, after school hours. They decided Miss Fairfield would come back to talk to them between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. However, Miss Lobelia Coombs wanted to see what was going into the paper before it went in.

 

Miss Fairfield next went to Freddie Pendergast’s house on Lauriston Street. There, she met with Susan Pendergast, a dull-looking, distraught blonde woman. She was worried about Freddie and broke down while they were talking, crying, desperate for the return of her boy. After talking for a half hour, she learned nothing new from the woman. She advised her to stay away from the carnival and ended up allowing the woman to cry on her shoulder.

* * *

 

 


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