Monday, February 20, 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 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 couldnâ€™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.
â€œWho is it?â€ he called.
Another knock came from the front door.
â€œNo!â€ he called.
â€œIs this the residence of Dr. Carl Huxtable?â€ a voice came through the door.
â€œSir Dr. Carl Huxtable!â€
He recognized the voice of Carl Denim from the carnival.
â€œI recognize your voice sir,â€ he called through the door. â€œWhat are you doing at my house?â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™m here to talk to you,â€ Denim said. â€œYou wanted to see some â€¦ some magic, didnâ€™t you?â€
â€œNot at my house!â€
â€œWell, youâ€™re in the telephone directory and I thought it would be more prudent to come visit you. And talk to you about this.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.
â€œCan I come in?â€ he asked.
Dr. Huxtable looked him up and down for any sign of dirt or filth. The man appeared to be quite clean.
â€œYou may come in,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
He led the man into the spic-and-span parlor that still smelled of disinfectant. Denim took a seat.
â€œSo, Dr. Huxtable!â€ he said. â€œYou were â€¦ uh â€¦ you were interested in some â€¦ you called it dark magic, didnâ€™t you.â€
Dr. Huxtable poured them both a glass of bourbon neat. Denim took the proffered drink and sipped at it.
â€œIs that correct?â€ he asked.
â€œYes,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œAh. Well, I put out some feelers and I talked to â€¦ certain people at the carnival, if you know what I mean.â€
â€œI think so.â€
â€œThey want to know â€¦ what you have to offer in return. Do you have some magic in return that might be useful to use â€¦ to them, actually. Iâ€™m just a go-between, you might say.â€
â€œSo this is a â€¦ you show me, I show you sort of deal?â€
â€œHm. I may have â€¦ something â€¦ powerful â€¦ that I have not tried yet.â€
â€œAh. What? What is it?â€
â€œI cannot â€¦ I do not feel comfortable telling â€¦ you right now.â€
â€œWhy not? Iâ€™m very trustworthy you know.â€
â€œOkay, you seem trustworthy! I know a spell that can create a gate.â€
â€œYou werenâ€™t at the carnival a few nights â€¦ last week, were you?â€
â€œI go to the carnival every night.â€
â€œOh, I see.â€
â€œI love the ponies.â€
â€œMmm. Interesting. Anyway, very well. Can you show me what you learned this from? Do you have any â€¦ items of mystical nature?â€
â€œMy daddy taught me.â€
â€œYour father. Ah.â€
â€œAnd heâ€™s in England so â€¦ I guess weâ€™ll never really know if Iâ€™m telling the truth.â€
â€œYour father â€¦ your father â€¦ oh, very well. You see, like I said, Iâ€™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€
â€œEveryone knows where I live?â€
â€œYouâ€™re in the directory. The telephone directory.â€
â€œI need to get out of there.â€
â€œWell, everyoneâ€™s in there. Why wouldnâ€™t you be in the telephone directory? If you have a telephone. Anyway.â€
â€œI need to get rid of my telephone.â€
â€œSo â€¦ uh â€¦ you can show â€¦ you can show â€¦ you can show someone doing â€¦ how to do this, right?â€
â€œI â€¦ possibly. If I was receiving something of equal worth.â€
â€œAll right, very well. In a night or two hence â€¦â€
â€œA night or two?â€
â€œYes. Iâ€™ll inform the people who are interested in this and they can come to your house and show you something.â€
â€œBut theyâ€™re going to want to be shown something as well.â€
Denim, whoâ€™d been sipping at the bourbon, finished it off and stood up.
â€œGreat!â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s just great. And I hope you enjoy the carnival the next time you come!â€
â€œOh yes,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œJust be careful. Just be careful.â€
â€œIâ€™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.
â€œHello?â€ he said.
â€œYes, is this Mr. Sanderson?â€ Dr. Huxtableâ€™s voice crackled over the line.
â€œYes, who may I ask is calling?â€
â€œCan you not tell by the voice? It is me, Sir Dr. Carl Huxtable once again. Aha.â€
â€œWhat can I help you with?â€
â€œWhat canâ€™t you help me with? I have so many problems.â€
â€œIâ€™m not a psychologist.â€
â€œWell, I am a psychologist. That may be one of the things I donâ€™t need you for. What I could use you for is police protection.â€
â€œThatâ€™s very vague.â€
â€œWe are living in dark times, my friend. I need much help. Please.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think I can be â€¦ I already have a job. Full time.â€
â€œWell, youâ€™re home right now, I figured if you were a true cop, youâ€™d be out on the streets.â€
â€œGet on with it!â€
â€œI may be having some â€¦ people coming to my place tonight, tomorrow night, or â€¦ who knows what night from here on out.â€
â€œYouâ€™re expecting a robbery?â€
â€œIâ€™m expecting people to come in here and show me some dark things.â€
â€œAnd I could really use some help. If youâ€™re free.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s the pay?â€
â€œWe can discuss pay when you arrive.â€
â€œBring clothes for at least a week and â€¦ and, um, Iâ€™m going to need you to shower at least twice because I know that you walked through feces, just as I did.â€
â€œOkay. Iâ€™ll be over soon.â€
Agent Sanderson hung up.
* * *
Agent Sanderson arrived at Dr. Huxtableâ€™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.
â€œWho is it?â€ Dr. Huxtableâ€™s voice called from within.
â€œSanderson,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œAll right. I need you to stand outside while I inspect you.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 manâ€™s salt-and-pepper hair was still damp from the shower heâ€™d taken before coming over. Though looking a little disheveled, he didnâ€™t look dirty and didnâ€™t smell.
â€œDid you not shower as I told you to do?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked.
â€œOh, I showered,â€ the other man growled.
â€œIs this is clean as cops can get?â€
â€œI suppose so.â€
Dr. Huxtable sighed.
â€œFine,â€ he finally said. â€œYou 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.
â€œI donâ€™t know what night these people are coming back but I need you to stay with me and I need you to be my â€¦ uh â€¦ my guard at night as I sleep,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œAll right,â€ Agent Sanderson said. â€œIâ€™ll leave during the day for work but Iâ€™ll come back after work.â€
â€œOkay. What kind of pay were you expecting?â€
â€œWhatâ€™re you offering?â€
â€œGive me â€¦ give me a number.â€
â€œSince this is a little bit of an inconvenience, say about 15 a night.â€
Dr. Huxtable looked at Agent Sanderson.
â€œIâ€™ll give you 20 if you do the job well,â€ he finally said.
â€œOkay,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œSucker!â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œAll right.â€
He set up the other man in one of the three guest rooms upstairs. They retired to the parlor after that.
â€œHave you been in contact with the others?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked.
â€œNot recently,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œWell â€¦ should we? Iâ€™ve been sick. I donâ€™t know what theyâ€™re up to.â€
â€œIf you want to call them, feel free to.â€
â€œYes, who should we call?â€
â€œJust call â€˜em all up.â€
â€œI 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€
â€œHow about you just â€¦ just go down the line. Bricker â€¦â€
He picked up the telephone.
* * *
Nigel Bricker heard the telephone ring in his bossâ€™ office. He went into the shop from his tiny house connected to the back of the garage and picked up the receiver.
â€œHello?â€ he said.
â€œIs this â€¦ Nigel Bricker?â€ Dr. Huxtableâ€™s voice came through the line. â€œOr is this one of the other dirty mechanics?â€
â€œYeah, this is Bricker. Who is this?â€
â€œCan you not tell by the voice? Itâ€™s Sir Doctor Carl Huxtable. The one and only. Forever and ever.â€
Bricker hung up.
* * *
â€œOh, I think we had a bad connection,â€ Dr. Huxtable said to Agent Sanderson.
â€œOkay,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œIâ€™m not very good at talking to dirty people. Maybe itâ€™s more in your line. Would you like to call Bricker back?â€
â€œSure, Iâ€™ll call Bricker back.â€
â€œHere you go.â€
* * *
Bricker had gotten back to his tiny, one-room apartment when the telephone rang again. He went back to the office.
â€œHello?â€ he said, picking up the receiver.
â€œBricker, this is Sanderson,â€ Agent Sandersonâ€™s voice growled over the line.
â€œOh, Sanderson. Iâ€™m sorry; I thought it was Huxtable again.â€
â€œIs that Bricker?â€ Dr. Huxtableâ€™s voice rang in the background.
â€œWait, heâ€™s not there with you, is he?â€ Bricker said.
â€œHe is,â€ Agent Sanderson said. â€œSadly. Heâ€™s wantingâ”€â€
â€œWhatâ€™s sad?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œStop talking! Heâ€™s wanting a job to be done. Heâ€™s rounding us all up.â€
â€œOkay,â€ he said.
â€œTell him he must shower first,â€ Huxtable said.
â€œStop talking!â€ Agent Sanderson said. â€œHe wants â€¦ heâ€™s a little crazy right now. Even more so. So he wants you to take a shower.â€
â€œOh â€¦â€ Bricker said. â€œOkay. Do I have to come right now or can I just come later.â€
â€œWhat do you want? Now or later.â€
â€œWhat are we talking about,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œFirst you said â€˜sadâ€™ and then you said â€˜Now or later.â€™â€
â€œDo you want him to come now or later?â€
â€œTo my house?â€
â€œTell him to round up the ruffians and meet at my place â€¦ as soon as possible. And they should all shower! All of them.â€
â€œYeah, Iâ€™ll try to find the others and meet there soon,â€ Bricker said.
* * *
Miss Edington had spent the last few days visiting with Kent Howard and Lucy Pringleâ€™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 Howardâ€™s parents, Thomas and Elizabeth Howard; and Lucy Pringleâ€™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 Brickerâ€™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.
â€œThis is Suzanna,â€ she said, picking up the telephone receiver.
â€œHi, this is Bricker,â€ Bricker said.
â€œWell, hello Mr. Bricker.â€
â€œYeah â€¦ um â€¦ apparently Huxtableâ€™s gotten a lead.â€
â€œOr something. Weâ€™re supposed to meet.â€
He gave her the address. Heâ€™d had to look it up in the telephone directory.
â€œAll right then,â€ she said. â€œDo you know what weâ€™re doing?â€
â€œWith Huxtable â€¦ no,â€ Bricker said.
â€œI donâ€™t like that.â€
â€œI donâ€™t either.â€
â€œAll right then. When?â€
â€œAs soon as possible.
â€œAll right then. Guess Iâ€™ll be over there as soon as possible.â€
* * *
Milo James had left Miss Edingtonâ€™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. Huxtableâ€™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. Huxtableâ€™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 Oeinâ€™s Model T Ford parked out front when they arrived, as well as Miss Edingtonâ€™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.
â€œWhat is your profession again?â€ he asked the man. â€œBecause you look like you get in hobo fights.â€
â€œI work with the union â€¦ sir,â€ Joell growled.
â€œSo, hobo fights.â€
Joell just glared at him.
â€œI cannot allow you to come further in my house,â€ Dr. Huxtable said, feeling his skin crawl at how dirty the man was. â€œBut you can stand in the foyer and not touch anything.â€
â€œI feel so welcomed,â€ Joell growled.
â€œThat is the best I can do. I smell feces on you.â€
â€œDo you own a shower?â€
â€œWill you let me use it?â€
â€œIf someone will carry you to it and make sure you do not touch anything along the way.â€
He looked at the Johnsons.
â€œYou two are related, yes?â€ he asked.
â€œSadly,â€ Joell said. â€œHe would say.â€
â€œNo, cousins,â€ Joseph said.
â€œOkay,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œWould 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€
â€œIâ€™ll just stay in the foyer,â€ Joell said.
â€œOr he can stay in the foyer,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œBut 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 hadnâ€™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.
â€œDo not touch him!â€ Dr. Huxtable said, gesturing at Joell.
â€œWhat?â€ she said. â€œWhat? Why?â€
â€œHe is dirty. Heâ€™s been in too many hobo fights.â€
â€œSanderson,â€ Joell said to the Agent.
â€œHey, Joell,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œIâ€™m sure youâ€™re happy to see me. Especially in this state.â€
â€œItâ€™s kind of funny.â€
â€œThatâ€™s what I thought. Iâ€™ve been trying to contact you though.â€
â€œYeah. The carnivalâ€™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€
â€œWell, how about that?â€
â€œI was thinking about getting in contact with you as you could get it from him probably better than any of us could. So, if youâ€™re interested â€¦â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™ll look into it. Tomorrow morning. Iâ€™ll have it by then.â€
â€œIâ€™m going to go stand in the hobo fight corner.â€
â€œIf heâ€™s dirty, why donâ€™t you let him go clean up?â€ Miss Fairfield asked.
â€œI tried to get someone to carry him up there,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œAnd watch him,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œBecause every step he takes makes my place dirtier,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œJust lay down newspaper,â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œIf we were living in a normal reality, I would shower,â€ Joell said, glaring at Dr. Huxtable.
â€œSo, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re all wondering why I called you here,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œCarl 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€
â€œAnd you thought this was a good idea,â€ James said.
â€œI think itâ€™s a great idea. He wants to see one of my spells in return for one of their spells.â€
â€œOne of your spells?â€
â€œOne of your spells?â€ Joell said.
â€œYes, I know spells,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œSince when?â€ James asked.
â€œWhat have you been keeping from us, Huxtable?â€
He looked them over.
â€œI have employed Sanderson to keep me safe,â€ he said. â€œAnd I would like to employ, maybe, you other people to stay at my house and also keep my safe.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be gone during the day,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œWhat did you say?â€ Dr. Huxtable said to him. â€œEverything you say sounds like a whisper.â€
â€œThose carnies are cultists,â€ Miss Fairfield said. â€œTheyâ€™re sacrificing people.â€
â€œYes! 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, weâ€™re on their ground. At my place, weâ€™re on my ground.â€
â€œDo you think they care either way?â€ James said.
â€œI donâ€™t know. But this may be the best chance we have unless you want to walk through feces again.â€
â€œEven if all we do is get to single out some people before we fight in a big group, itâ€™s better than going against all of them,â€ Joell said. â€œI think itâ€™s a good idea, even if I have to stand in this corner the whole time.â€
â€œYes!â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œYou could take their coats when they arrive. Or you can take a shower once your cousin carries you up the stairs! I really donâ€™t care.â€
â€œIf I cleaned up after my own footsteps, could I take a shower?â€
â€œHow 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.
â€œGood-bye Joell,â€ Dr. Huxtable called after them.
He returned in a half hour or so, hair wet and wearing some of Dr. Huxtableâ€™s clothing. Later, Dr. Huxtable burned the towels he used. They finally all got together in the parlor again.
â€œThis is great,â€ Joell said to Dr. Huxtable, sitting in a plush chair in the manâ€™s oversized clothing. â€œI love your place.â€
â€œThatâ€™s what everyone says!â€ 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.
â€œSo, Dr. Carl Huxtable, how about for a trained marine?â€ Joseph asked.
â€œA trained marine?â€ he said. â€œWhat weapons do you have, sir?â€
â€œI have a Springfield rifle.â€
â€œI would â€¦ 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.
â€œI thought you knew spells,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œOf course I know spells,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œIâ€™ve never used it though.â€
Miss Edington listened carefully.
â€œThe spell that I know would probably only be good to use once,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œAnd after that â€¦ God save this planet.â€
Everyone stared at him.
â€œWhat about you, Bricker?â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œMy carâ€™s making a noise.â€
The mechanic just shrugged.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot more carnies than people in this room,â€ Miss Fairfield said. â€œDoesnâ€™t make sense for you to hire three people to protect you.â€
â€œI feel more protected already,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œAnd I donâ€™t know how many carnies theyâ€™re sending to my place. I suspect that Carl Denim will show back up. And I know heâ€™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 theyâ€™re coming back. And Iâ€™m scared. But â€¦ 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 didnâ€™t want men calling her there and didnâ€™t think Mrs.Wicke, who owned and ran the all-womanâ€™s boarding house, would approve. Bricker noted his telephone number was his work and asked them not to telephone him there during the day.
â€œDear God, Joell,â€ James said. â€œThat 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 Fairfieldâ€™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 wasnâ€™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.
â€œHe wasnâ€™t talking â€¦ if you know what I mean,â€ he said.
â€œSo, youâ€™re feeding them now?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked, eyes narrowed.
â€œWell, we fed them one.â€
â€œThatâ€™s how I got this gash.â€
â€œDid they tell you anything?â€ James asked. â€œWait. What?â€
â€œThey did,â€ Joell said.
â€œYou gave them â€¦ sustenance and they â€¦â€
James pointed at Joellâ€™s face.
â€œNo,â€ Joell said. â€œIt was the zombie.â€
â€œOh my God,â€ James said.
â€œYou fed them Wessen?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œNo, not Wessen,â€ Joell said. â€œPurposefully not Wessen.â€
â€œYou fed them a stranger?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œHe was already dead,â€ Joell said.
â€œDid you get any information?â€ James said.
â€œOh yeah,â€ Joell said.
He noted he had tried to take out the zombie with his baseball bat but got socked in the face.
â€œMy God Joell!â€ James said. â€œWhat is wrong with you?â€
â€œEverything,â€ Joell said. â€œI donâ€™t remember exactly how we got it done but we got him in and â€¦ essentially what this â€¦ ghoul told us was that â€¦ he was a person at one time and so was each and every one of them and they apparently performed some â€¦ something â€¦â€
â€œSome ritual?â€ James said.
â€œâ€¦ to get them to turn into what they are now.â€
â€œFor what purpose?â€
â€œWell, the reason he gave was that life was simpler when you just eat and live forever and donâ€™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 Mâ€™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.
â€œSo, are we kosher with them?â€ James asked.
Joell told him the ghouls didnâ€™t really care about them as they were immortal and the humans were not. They didnâ€™t really care about the carnival workers either, but they said the carnival workers thought the ghouls were working for them, though the ghouls didnâ€™t seem to agree.
â€œSo, Iâ€™m not going to get all shrivelly this time?â€ James asked.
â€œNot from the ghouls,â€ Joell said.
Joseph made a little â€œMaybe/maybe notâ€ motion with his hands.
Joell noted at the very least one person could go down the ghoul way and open up the grave entrance.
â€œSo then weâ€™re suspecting that the carnival workers have taken the kid and not these ghouls?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked.
â€œThey also said that if the boy is down there, if they have the boy, then heâ€™s probably in those caves in some kind of â€¦ cage or cell somewhere,â€ Joell said.
â€œAlso, they said that the things that the sculpture is of is a â€¦ chthonian,â€ Joseph said. â€œOr something like that.â€
Dr. Huxtable thought it another name for the Lubalas. He remembered they flew between worlds as well.
â€œThe crypt we have to go down in named Whipple,â€ Joell said. â€œThe 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.
â€œSo, do you all plan to go through the caves again?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked.
â€œWell, we donâ€™t have to,â€ Joell said. â€œBut thatâ€™s probably where the Pendergast boy is. And if that girl is anywhere around there, thatâ€™s probably where she is too.â€
â€œHas anyone else gone missing since we started this quest?â€
â€œNot that I know of. Except for Wessen. But we found him.â€
â€œAnd there are no feces through the ghoul way, correct?â€
â€œUh â€¦ rotten flesh,â€ Joseph said.
â€œOh boy â€¦â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œThatâ€™s why Iâ€™m suggesting one of us goes through the ghoul way and open up that grave entrance,â€ Joell said. â€œSo not all of us have to go through the ghoulâ€™s home.â€
â€œDo you want to handle that, Joell?â€ James said. â€œYou seem most familiar.â€
â€œI mean â€¦ he did like me.â€
Miss Edington chuckled.
â€œThatâ€™s not surprising,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œOh, they also said we could call to them in basements,â€ Joseph said. â€œIf thatâ€™s pertinent at all.â€
â€œYeah,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œWhat?â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œHow?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œIf you have a basement,â€ Joseph said.
â€œLetâ€™s go down to my basement!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œI would much rather do that than go to the cemetery,â€ Father Oein said. â€œGive it a try?â€
â€œIf thereâ€™s anything my house needs, itâ€™s a ghoul tunnel to my basement,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
Then he remembered how filthy the things had been.
â€œIâ€™m going to need one of you to go to the general store and buy a tarp,â€ he said. â€œOr â€¦ wait. Do I have a tarp?â€
He remembered he had a tarp in the shed in his back yard.
â€œOkay, letâ€™s go down to my basement and see how we call them,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œIâ€™m staying up here,â€ Bricker said, remembering how horrible the dog-like things were.
â€œIâ€™m staying upstairs too,â€ Joseph said.
â€œYouâ€™re the one that suggested we call them from the basement!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œIâ€™ll go down,â€ Father Oein said. â€œThey probably want to see a familiar face at least.â€
â€œOkay,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œThey terrify me,â€ Joseph admitted.
â€œThey terrify all of us, donâ€™t they?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œYeah, that sounds like a really bad idea,â€ Virgil Thomas said.
â€œIâ€™d really recommend not doing this unless you have a specific question you want to ask them,â€ Joell said.
â€œAinâ€™t nothing â€¦ is this something you call up, you can put it back down?â€ Virgil Thomas said. â€œYou canâ€™t put it down â€¦â€
â€œIf you made them a deal though, they might protect you against the carnies,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œWhy?â€ Virgil Thomas said to her. â€œWhy you doing this? Why would you say something to encourage him to do the dumbest thing I heard so far in this whole conversation? Sheâ€™s trying to get you killed, Iâ€™m afraid. Not that we ainâ€™t all thought about it.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think anyone can stop me from getting killed,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œAll the weird, black magic people know where I live.â€
â€œWell, you got yourself in a right mess, didnâ€™t you?â€ Miss Edington said to him.
â€œEh,â€ he replied. â€œI need to go back to England. Leave all this behind.â€
â€œWell, what are we doing?â€ 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, wouldnâ€™t harm them anymore. Joell didnâ€™t think they would. When Miss Edington asked about the sacrifices, Joell noted they did so on the full moon, according to the creature theyâ€™d talked to. The next full moon was in two weeks.
â€œSo, do we want to go down there when we know that the carnies are going to be down there - at night?â€ Father Oein said. â€œOr do we want to go down there during the day when theyâ€™ll all be working.â€
â€œOh, thatâ€™s a good idea,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œThatâ€™s what I was considering too,â€ Joell said. â€œHowever, 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. Huxtableâ€™s. The good doctor offered to drive him across down for his clothing and his rifle.
Before they all left, Joell stopped Agent Sanderson.
â€œSanderson,â€ he said.
â€œWhat?â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œDo you think youâ€™ll need someone to corroborate the story if youâ€™re going after that police superintendentâ€™s file? Because, I do have a big gash in my head.â€
â€œI donâ€™t know â€¦ are you saying you donâ€™t think I can go ask my own people?â€
â€œFor files? You think theyâ€™re going to interrogate me for some files?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know how the inner workings of the system are.â€
Agent Sanderson left the room.
â€œSheesh,â€ 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 â€œthe 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.
â€œDead â€¦â€ he said. â€œâ€¦ dead â€¦ things â€¦ in the graveyard â€” I wanted my kiss â€¦ Oh poor Lucy! The grave is just a trick â”€ itâ€™s opening up like a trapdoor! â€¦ No, Lucy! Donâ€™t go over there! Donâ€™t you see it? Youâ€™ve got to see it? No, donâ€™t run? â€¦ Oh my Savior! Whatâ€™s that â€¦ out of the ground â”€ I canâ€™t get away â€¦ Lucy! â€¦ Why is it hot? Itâ€™s so hot here. It should be cool. And it smells so bad. â€¦ Those things! Theyâ€™ve got Lucy! â€¦ Thereâ€™s too many of them! I canâ€™t get through. Too many â€¦ Dead things â€¦ The smell â€¦ Maggots dropping and getting all over my new suit â€¦ help me grace â€¦ canâ€™t anyone hear us? â€¦ Oh hail Mary, full of grace, blessed art though above all women that thing coming out of the ground is taking Lucy â€¦ No! Thereâ€™s a rope! Itâ€™s got me! Help! â€¦ It hurts! Mother, it hurts! Aaagh! Aagh! â€¦ Iâ€™m free! But somethingâ€™s wrong. Oh Christ Redeemer! My arm! â€¦ Why can I still hear the carnival music from here? We should be too far away? My arm! â€¦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 manâ€™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.
â€œThis is the strangest thing Iâ€™ve ever seen,â€ he said quietly.
Kent Howard suddenly sat straight up in the bed, looked alertly around, and locked eyes with James.
â€œThe biggest corpse in the whole wide world must be sitting there under that graveyard,â€ he said. â€œBecause of the maggots â”€ such big maggots must come from a big manâ€™s body, mustnâ€™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.
â€œYes,â€ she said. â€œCan I help you?â€
â€œUh, yes,â€ Miss Fairfield said. â€œAre Alvin and Edgar here?â€
â€œTheyâ€™re at school. It is Tuesday.â€
Miss Fairfield looked at her watch. The woman narrowed her eyes.
â€œWhy?â€ she asked.
â€œWell, Iâ€™mâ”€â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œWho are you?â€
â€œIâ€™m sure youâ€™ve heard of the missing boy, Freddie.â€
â€œYes. He was their friend, yes.â€
â€œWell, he was at the amusement park withâ”€â€
â€œYes, Iâ€™m their mother! I know. What do you want with them?â€
â€œDid they tell you anything?
â€œWho are you!?!â€
â€œIâ€™m Evelyn Fairfield. With the Providence Journal.â€
â€œOh â€¦ with the newspaper?â€
The woman touched her hair to make sure it was in place.
â€œOh,â€ she said again. â€œUm â€¦ um â€¦ I donâ€™t know â€¦ I donâ€™t know if I should let them talk to the paper. That could get them into trouble, couldnâ€™t it?â€
â€œWell, no no no,â€ Miss Fairfield said. â€œTheyâ€™re not in any trouble.â€
â€œWell, maybe I should talk to you. Would I get my picture in the paper?â€
â€œYes, of course.â€
â€œWell â€¦ 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 Pendergastâ€™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.
* * *