Monday, November 20, 2017
(After playing the Call of Cthulhu original scenario â€œThe Lurker in Tunnel 13 on Sunday, November 12, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. with John Leppard, Jacob Marcus, Austin Davie, and Katelyn Hogan.)
James Cloverfield had returned on numerous occasions to Columbia University to talk to Karl Sappington. Though Sappington didnâ€™t really want to hear it, Cloverfield told him about the strange events that took place in the city in May of 1923. Sappington mentioned the name Nyarlathotep but admitted he didnâ€™t know a lot about whomever or whatever that was. However, he knew someone who did. Dr. Joseph Murrow was a Ph.D. of Classical Studies who used to work for New York University. He had since retired, but now lived in McAlveys Fort, Pennsylvania. However, Sappington warned him that, from what little he knew of Nyarlathotep, the Messenger of the Gods of a Thousand Masks, it was a very dangerous thing to pursue. He advised against following up on it.
Cloverfield ignored his advice.
He got a letter of recommendation from the professor. Sappington wrote on the back of one of his cards: â€œDr. Murrow, please tell this gentleman anything he wants. I trust him.â€ He signed it and gave it to the man.
When Cloverfield asked about other information, Sappington doubted heâ€™d be able to easily learn anything. He mentioned rare book rooms, Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts, or occult or rare book stores.
â€œPeople donâ€™t look into this and those who do â€¦ bad things happen to them,â€ Sappington said.
He asked for Cloverfield not to use his name except with Dr. Murrow.
Cloverfield later asked his butler Winters to look for such strange and esoteric tomes whenever he was out. Winters assured him he would. However, in the months since the strange occurrence with Leroy Turner and his cursed trumpet, Winters was not able to find any occult books for sale that seemed relevant.
* * *
Marco Pavil, from Jonestown, Pennsylvania, had become a recluse over the span of time after he had visited the strange Clarke House in Massachusetts. He continued doing his job in the steel mills but he found himself have more and more trouble dealing with repetitive noises. He had smashed every clock in his house and left them on the walls, the time they were smashed within minutes of each other.
He had written his mother and father in Poland, telling them everything that had happened in the horrible Clarke House. He tried to describe it in detail in the letter. He received a letter back from his mother, advising him to remain calm and noting his Great Aunt Needa had a similar experience. She also recommended he talk to a priest about it and possibly go to confession and join the church once again. She went into more detail about Aunt Needa, who lived in a haunted house for 48 years. She noted Aunt Needa had been fine by the end.
Pavil was not sure who Aunt Needa was but assumed she was a great aunt, perhaps one of his grandmotherâ€™s sisters. His family was very large.
He went to St. Columba Catholic Church there in Johnstown. The church was only about 10 years old and he worked to become a devote Catholic. The priest at the church was Father Patrick Donald. Pavil converted fully to Catholicism, going to confession and being confirmed in the church. He became an active member of the congregation. One of his most treasured possessions became a crucifix he was gifted after his confirmation.
At one point in 1923, he talked to Father Patrick about everything that had happened to him at the Clarke House in Massachusetts. He actually opened up about it but Father Patrick was not as receptive as he thought he would have been. The man of the cloth tried to comfort him and dismiss what he saw as hallucination, which put Pavil off. The priest also had a cane and tapped it quite a bit.
Pavil found another Catholic church to attend in Johnstown. He didnâ€™t trust Father Patrick anymore and didnâ€™t want to see the man.
Pavil also knew his friend Deryl Wallin had been seeing a psychologist ever since he had visited James Cloverfield in New York in May of 1923. Cloverfield was paying for it, according to Wallin. Unfortunately, the therapy had not helped the man very much. He got together with Deryl when his brother James Wallin came to visit him. The three men spent time together and Pavil was a little surprised the other man was a lumberjack who lived in Cleveland, Ohio. James Wallin told him he traveled out of town to do his work as well as work trimming and felling trees for individuals and the city. Pavil and James hit it off though Deryl was rather disturbed.
James Wallin knew what was going on with his brother and was not only sympathetic but also seemed to actually believe the madness that had befallen him. Something had happened out west to James Wallin and, though he didnâ€™t talk about it, it seemed very important.
* * *
James Wallin, Deryl Wallinâ€™s brother, went on an anniversary dinner with his wife, Elizabeth. They had a tiny baby boy named Michael. He and his wife had a good relationship. Elizabeth was Catholic and James more a realist and naturalist.
He had bought a few steaks and they went to a small cabin in the woods they owned for a romantic night to celebrate their four year anniversary. It was the same place he and Deryl had the fire a year or so before. Wallin cooked the steaks and they spent the night alone, having gotten a sitter for their child.
* * *
Nurse Edna Petrov continued to search for her lost love.
Mikhail Chernykov had been a very small man in the Russian Army before the July Offensive in October 1917. Chernykov had often come to Nurse Petrovâ€™s medical tent before that. He was a sweet man who was obviously very fond of her. Most other men found her intimidating due to her brusque nature even though she was a handsome woman. She had grown to love the weak little man.
A month or so before the Russians pulled out of the Great War, Chernykov disappeared during a Russian attack. His body was not brought back and there was no word of the man. Nurse Petrov made inquiries as to his disposition, as he was not listed among the rosters of the dead or missing. He was simply not listed at all.
When Russia pulled out of the war in 1917 and the Bolshevik government had signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Nurse Petrov, like others, went back to Russia where there was great confusion and continual fighting. She stopped making inquiries as she was very busy.
Sometime after that, she immigrated to the United States but she continued her inquiries via mail through one of her brothers. That continued for some time until, in 1923, she received a disappointing letter. â€œWe canâ€™t look into this anymore,â€ the letter stated. â€œPlease do not write me about this anymore.â€
This understandably upset her and she wrote him back, demanding why he was rebuffing her and refusing to help her find the â€œonly man who would love me.â€ In response, she got a short telegraph from Berlin, Germany. It was signed by her brother and she wondered why he was in Germany. It read:
â€œLetters are being read by the government. Stop. Cannot pursue this. Stop. Family under investigation. Stop. Everyone in danger. Stop. Look in northern France. End.â€
She guessed the telegram had been sent from Berlin as her brother felt safer sending from there than Russia. She didnâ€™t know why the government would care what had happed to Chernykov as the man was not even an officer. It was all very perplexing.
Not long after the telegraph arrived, a letter came from the same brother, obviously meant to be read by whoever was opening the familyâ€™s mail. Her brother simply wrote he was happy she decided to stop pursuing her investigation and asked for her to confirm she would no longer pursue it. It felt like the letter was asking for a confirmation just for the people spying on the family to get the government off their backs. The letter was not written in her brotherâ€™s usual style and she picked up that it was meant for dissembling. It mentioned an old game they had played with their mother and she remembered the lying game, where they would try to deceive each other.
She wrote a letter back with just one word: â€œFine.â€
She stopped all correspondence about Chernykov.
* * *
James Cloverfield looked up McAlveys Fort in an atlas and found it lay in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. A little research showed trains ran to nearby Huntingdon, the county seat. From there, he guessed they could take a motorcar.
He telephoned Deryl Wallin to see if he could come with him.
â€œI-I canâ€™t come,â€ Wallin said. â€œIâ€™m not ready yet. I-I could call my brother and â€¦ um â€¦ he could potentially help you out.â€
â€œOkay,â€ Cloverfield said. â€œWeâ€™ve got to go to McAlveys Fort, Pennsylvania. If you want to meet me there in a week. And can you contact Marco and ask if heâ€™ll come?â€
â€œYes. Iâ€™ll give my brother Marcoâ€™s information.â€
â€œRemember that nurse from two years ago?â€
â€œMaybe you should invite her along. Just so â€¦ in case we get into it or something. I donâ€™t know. Iâ€™m just going to ask this guy but â€¦ I donâ€™t know. Maybe â€¦ maybe some closure or something.â€
â€œIâ€™ll go to the hospital and tell her you asked for her.â€
After he was off the telephone, Cloverfield had Winters arrange the train tickets and the butler told him that after inquiries he learned a car could be rented in Huntingdon. He had Winters arrange to rent a four-seat car there and made plans to take the train.
* * *
Wallin went to the hospital in Bristol and asked for Nurse Petrov. He told her Cloverfield asked for her to potentially go help him. When she asked about what, he noted the rich man was checking out a lead in central Pennsylvania.
â€œLead for what?â€ she asked.
â€œIâ€™m not entirely sure,â€ Wallin admitted. â€œI didnâ€™t stay on the phone too long to ask.â€
â€œI know but donâ€™t worry. Marco is going to be there as well.â€
She realized Wallin was not acting quite right.
â€œYou have number so I can get questions answered?â€ she asked.
â€œHuh?â€ he said.
â€œYou have number?â€
â€œYes, uh â€¦â€
â€œNot for you. For boy. Cloverfield.â€
He wrote down Cloverfieldâ€™s information for her.
â€œOkay,â€ she said. â€œI call. I ask questions.â€
â€œAll right,â€ Wallin said.
â€œGet rest,â€ she said.
* * *
Nurse Petrov sent Cloverfield a telegram. It read:
â€œNeed details. End.â€
She received a reply that read: â€œFound lead. Stop. Doctor Murrow. Stop. Lives in McAlveys Fort, Pennsylvania. Stop. Knows about strange things relating to house. Stop.â€
He included information on Huntingdon and the date they were to meet in the city. He also noted he offered negotiable compensation if she came.
She decided to go.
* * *
James Wallin, after his brother called him, told his wife good-bye and for her to take care of little Michael.
â€œWhere are you going?â€ Elizabeth asked.
â€œDeryl told me one of his friends needs help with something.â€
â€œThis rich man named Cloverfield.â€
She was confused and wanted details. He told her Cloverfield lived in New York and they met twice. He told her he was going to Pennsylvania, only one state over, and wouldnâ€™t be gone too long. He promised.
â€œWrite me every day,â€ she said.
â€œI will,â€ he said.
â€œWait, heâ€™s rich? Call me every day. Let him pay for it.â€
â€œAll right. I will.â€
She was not happy with him going off without her. It was his first trip to another state alone. He had taken shorter trips for his work as a lumberjack but she hadnâ€™t liked that either.
He took the train to Huntingdon.
* * *
Marco Pavil got a telegram from Deryl Wallin. It read: â€œCloverfield says meet in Huntingdon Pennsylvania on February 15. Stop. Has a lead. End.â€ He contemplated on it for a day before replying with a telegram that simply said. â€œIs this about the house. Stop. Where can I find him. Stop. Contact information please. End.â€ The reply came within a few hours: â€œMaybe. Stop.â€ It also contained contact information for Cloverfield. He sent to Cloverfield.: â€œIs it about the house. Stop. Where can I find you. Stop. Tell me what you know. Stop.â€ The response was â€œRelated to house. Stop. Meet me in Huntingdon Pennsylvania February 15. Stop. Will tell you there. Stop. Will pay. End.â€
* * *
On Friday, February 15, 1924, they each arrived in Huntingdon on various trains from various parts of the country. It was very cold in Huntingdon and snow lay on the ground. Huntington was a small city with a population of about 7,000 and they all met at one of the hotels. Cloverfield had a rented car ready for them but it was in the afternoon when they were all ready to head for McAlveys Fort. Cloverfield had gotten instructions and maps for the trip and knew the way to the tiny town only about 20 miles away. Even on the snow-covered road, they would make it in an hour or two. They expected to arrive at the town before dark.
Wallin asked Cloverfield for money to telegraph his wife before they went and went to the telegraph office to send to her: â€œEverythingâ€™s going well. Stop. Met him. Stop. Couldnâ€™t find a phone. Stop. Sent this instead. End.â€
Even with the delay, Cloverfield expected to arrive before dark. He drove and the rest loaded into the newish Chevrolet hardtop sedan. They drove into the mountains of Pennsylvania.
It started snowing as they left Huntingdon and the weather got worse as they passed through the tiny, practically nonexistent towns of Gorsuch and Donation, slowing their progress considerably. They were looking for Ennisville, but they drove for several more miles and took more turns without seeing the town, unless they had missed it in the snow and the dark.
The motorcar reached a particularly steep downward incline in a thickly wooded area, the road feeling very narrow. As they headed down, Cloverfield pressed on the brakes but the car didnâ€™t slow at all as the wheels locked and the machine slid down the hill, out of control. As they plowed down the incline, an old man stepped out from behind a tree on the right, looking around. He seemed oblivious to the motorcar, which struck the man, who went down in front of the machine. There were two bumps as the passenger side front and back tire went over him.
They slid down to the bottom of the hill where the Chevrolet crashed into a large snowdrift and was partially buried in the snow as the engine died. Both Pavil and Nurse Petrov, in the back, were slammed around and injured in the crash. The two in the front seat were fine.
Cloverfield put his head in his hands while Wallin climbed out of the motorcar and headed back up the hill towards the man theyâ€™d hit. Nurse Petrov climbed out with her medical bag. Pavil also climbed out and pulled out his flask, taking a swig. He headed up the hill as Cloverfield climbed out, cane in hand, and followed.
It was terribly cold and the snow continued to fall heavily. When Nurse Petrov and Wallin got to the old man they saw he had a beard and wore overalls but no coat or hat. The overalls appeared to be homemade. He was breathing heavily and obviously badly injured. His hands were pulled up into near-fists, almost like claws. Nurse Petrov examined the man but didnâ€™t want to move him.
He suddenly grabbed Nurse Petrovâ€™s coat.
â€œItâ€™s too late,â€ he muttered. â€œToo late to help me now.â€
Nurse Petrov reached into her medical bag and prepared a syringe with morphine.
â€œIf youâ€™re a stranger in these parts, stay a stranger,â€ the old man said. â€œWhatever you do â€¦ donâ€™t go into Perdition.
â€œNot that Perdition wasnâ€™t a good town once. It was a fine town. A mining town. Rich in coal and precious ores. But then the coal ran out and the people starting running out as well. There wanâ€™t any natural way to restore the mines. So, Monroe â€¦ Abraham Monroe â€¦ he started looking into unnatural ways â€¦ the occult. The supernatural.
â€œThen, one night, I guess he thought he was ready. He gathered up all the mystic books and such heâ€™d been collecting and carried them into the mine â€¦ and that was the last anyone ever saw of Abraham Monroe.â€
She injected the man with the morphine.
â€œOh, there was the scream that night of course,â€ the old man rambled on. â€œIt came rolling out of the mine, spilling across the streets of town. But never any sign of the man who made the horrid sound â€¦
â€œThings havenâ€™t been the same in Perdition since then. The strange disappearances of anybody going too close to the mines, the gnawing fear that everybody lives there with â€¦ and the fact that since Monroe vanished â€¦ nobody else has ever left town.
â€œUntil me that is. I was leaving town. I was running from it â€¦ Now I guess theyâ€™ll never get me back there again â€¦â€
The man breathed his last. His age and his injuries were simply too much for him.
â€œOkay, then,â€ Wallin said.
It seemed to get colder and Nurse Petrov picked up the old man and moved him to the side of the road. She packed some snow around him, but her gloves were not meant for the wet snow and quickly became soaked, her hands freezing cold.
â€œDoes he have a map on him or anything?â€ Cloverfield said.
â€œIâ€™m not going to rummage through dead manâ€™s pocket,â€ she said.
â€œI donâ€™t have a darn clue where we are at the moment,â€ Cloverfield said. â€œAnd weâ€™re freezing.â€
â€œWell, he was walking away from the town so â€¦ if he came out of the woods over there, that should mean townâ€™s that way,â€ Wallin said.
â€œBut, didnâ€™t he say he wanted to â€¦ that â€¦ stay out of â€¦ the town,â€ Cloverfield said.
â€œYeah, but isnâ€™t that the town weâ€™re heading to anyways.?â€ Wallin said.
â€œWell â€¦ no,â€ Cloverfield said. â€œIt was Fort â€¦ McClay? McAlveys Fort. Old man said it was â€¦ the town was â€¦ but I donâ€™t think it was the town that we were trying to go to.â€
â€œYouâ€™re right, he didnâ€™t say the word Fort,â€ Wallin said.
â€œHe didnâ€™t say Fort,â€ Nurse Petrov said.
â€œWhich means it might be in the other direction,â€ Wallin said.
â€œPerdition,â€ Pavil said.
â€œLetâ€™s try going the other direction, then,â€ Wallin said. â€œHe was coming from the right, maybe we should go left.â€
There was no road to the left. They went back to the motorcar and Cloverfield got it started but it was stuck in the snowdrift. They didnâ€™t have any shovels or tools to dig the motorcar out with and if they dug with their mittens and gloves, they would quickly become soaked, threatening them all with frostbite.
They noticed a sign near the road. The top appeared to have been rotted or ripped off but the bottom said â€œOne Mile.â€ It looked like it was very, very old.
â€œLetâ€™s find shelter or freeze,â€ Nurse Petrov said.
Pavil pointed out if they started walking, they would warm up about halfway there.
â€œHalfway where?â€ Wallin said.
Nurse Petrov pointed to the sign.
â€œGoing one mile there,â€ she said. â€œMaybe someone point us in right direction.â€
They all grabbed some of their luggage and headed down the road through the drifts of snow. Pushing through was not easy but the remains of the road through the thick oak woods was not hard to follow. The snow started letting up and roughly a mile from the spot where they struck the old man, they came to a spot where the road dipped down into a valley. The clouds parted and the nearly full move shone down.
The light shined eerily down into the snow-covered town and smoke was evident from some of the chimneys of the village filled with quaint little two-and three-story houses and businesses. Just as evident was the ruined nature of many of the structures. Several had wrecked upper floors, the windows that survived on the bottom boarded up. Debris was evident near the fronts and sides of the buildings and a few of the structures had collapsed entirely. Decrepit picket fences lined the yards by some of the houses on the edge of town and most of the structures appeared deserted.
Wallin set his suitcase down and slid part way down the hill before the snow built up in front of it.
â€œI was tired of walking,â€ he said to the others as they walked down the hill.
Pavil began to feel the beginning of a headache or some kind of pressure on his mind. It was not pleasant.
They passed several houses that were obviously abandoned. The village appeared to be in a shambles, looking even worse than it did from the entrance to the valley. Houses and homes had obviously not been kept up and the entire place looked shabby. A signpost stood near the edge of town but the sign was not upon it.
Though there was no light from any of the houses or buildings, smoke trickled up from several that werenâ€™t abandoned. The newly-fallen snow on the road and the ground was unmarked and not shoveled, standing nearly two feet deep in places. It was very cold.
They reached an intersection and saw the smoke coming from houses on either side.
â€œWell,â€ Nurse Petrov said. â€œI say we go to house with fire.â€
â€œProbably a good plan,â€ Wallin said.
â€œYeah,â€ Pavil said.
â€œYeah,â€ Cloverfield said.
They went to the house on the left and knocked on the door. After a short time, they heard movement inside.
â€œWhoâ€™s there?â€ a gruff voice called.
â€œUh â€¦ we are four people,â€ Nurse Petrov said. â€œWe lost control of car. Cannot bring out of snow. Need shelter temporarily.â€
It was quiet for a long time and then a flickering light appeared in one of the windows. After that, the latch clicked and the door opened timidly. A man stood there in a nightshirt with a jacket thrown over his shoulders.
â€œYouâ€™re â€¦ youâ€™re strangers?â€ he said.
He looked back into the house.
â€œItâ€™s someone from the outside world!â€ he called.
He looked back to them.
â€œCâ€™mon in,â€ he said. â€œCâ€™mon in outta the cold.â€
He backed up, opening the door wider.
This isnâ€™t the reaction I expected, Pavil thought.
The home appeared to be worn but well-furnished. The man closed and locked the door behind them. They saw two children peeking out from behind the doorway.
â€œGo get Ezekiel!â€ the man said, pointing to one of them. â€œGo get Ezekiel! Theyâ€™re strangers!â€
The child ran to the door and put on rugged and rough-looking homemade looking clothing and pulled on a pair of very work and patched boots. He ran out the front door and into the darkness.
A low fire burned in the fireplace with red-hot coals all around it. An alcohol or kerosene lamp flickered with light nearby. The room smelled of fried food or grease and they guessed the lamp might have been filled with some kind animal or vegetable oil. The man looked at all of the nervously as the warmth from the room started to thaw them out. Nurse Petrov went over and sat by the fire. Cloverfield and Wallin both realized the man was obviously terrified of them, eyeing them warily and keeping his distance.
â€œSir â€¦ where are we?â€ Cloverfield asked.
â€œUh â€¦ this is Perdition,â€ the man said. â€œPerdition, Pennsylvania. But Ezekielâ€™s coming. You can talk to him. Heâ€™ll know what to do. Heâ€™ll know what to do.â€
â€œDo you know where Fort â€¦ Mc â€¦ El â€¦?â€ he said.
â€œFort Mickle?â€ the other man said.
â€œFort Mickle, yeah.â€
â€œFort Mickle? No.â€
â€œI believe you meant Fort McCray?â€ Walling said.
The man shook his head.
Wallin went to the man and offered his hand. The man backed away as if he thought Wallin was going to kill him.
â€œThank you for your hospitality,â€ Wallin said.
The man shook it tentatively.
â€œWhat are you scared of?â€ Pavil asked.
â€œHow rude,â€ Nurse Petrov said.
â€œWe donâ€™t get many strangers around here,â€ the man said. â€œSometimes â€¦ I mean â€¦â€
â€œIt is out in the middle of nowhere,â€ Wallin said.
â€œThatâ€™s right,â€ the man said. â€œThatâ€™s right.â€
â€œWhy donâ€™t you get many strangers?â€ Pavil said.
â€œWe just donâ€™t,â€ the man said. â€œAinâ€™t no train.â€
â€œMost people probably think â€˜abandoned town,â€™â€ Nurse Petrov said. â€œNo offense.â€
â€œNone taken,â€ the man said.
â€œDo you know an old man?â€ Pavil said.
â€œUh â€¦ I know some old men,â€ the man said.
â€œMaybe one that might have gone missing? Tried to get away, leave this place?â€
â€œNobody leaves. No. I donâ€™t â€¦ I donâ€™t â€¦â€
â€œLong white beard,â€ Wallin said. â€œNo mustache. Bald head.â€
â€œUh â€¦ might be â€¦ Johnson Bice,â€ the man said. â€œHe sounds kind of like youâ€™re talking about. I donâ€™t know where he could go. Itâ€™s got arthritis really bad. He couldnâ€™t go nowhere. Especially not in that.â€
He gestured towards the door.
â€œItâ€™s been a bad day,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s been a really bad day.â€
Pavil suddenly realized, in the silence when no one spoke, there was the constant tick-tock of a clock from some other room nearby. The repetitive, unending noise started to grate on his nerves and he found his eye twitching with every tick and every tock. Nurse Petrov noticed it and narrowed her eyes. She realized he had some issue and soon recognized the twitch was synchronized with the clock.
â€œDo you need to leave?â€ she asked.
â€œIf you could make that clock stop itâ€™d be even better,â€ Pavil said.
â€œExplain,â€ she said.
She could hear the tick-tock of a pendulum, probably to an old grandfather clock, somewhere in the place.
â€œPlug ears,â€ she said.
â€œItâ€™s been like this ever since the house,â€ Pavil said. â€œCouldnâ€™t get it to stop.â€
â€œPlug ears,â€ she said again. â€œHere you go.â€
She pulled earplugs from her medical bag and Pavil put them in his ears. He could no longer hear the ticking and he felt a great relief.
The front door opened with a blast of cold air and the boy the man had sent off came in. Three more people were behind him, a man, a woman, and a young boy. The man was handsome and young with thick hair that was out of style. The woman was blonde and pretty. The young man was obviously their son and looked at the four people curiously.
The man whose house they were in rushed over to the door.
â€œWhatâ€™s someone from the outside world doing here?â€ he said to the man.
â€œI donâ€™t know, but I intend to find out,â€ the man replied.
He patted the old man on his shoulder.
â€œNot here on purpose,â€ Nurse Petrov said.
â€œHowdy folks, we donâ€™t get strangers here often,â€ he said. â€œWhatâ€™re you all doing in Perdition?â€
â€œI crashed our car out on the hill,â€ Cloverfield said.
â€œOh,â€ the man said.
â€œCaught in snowdrift,â€ Nurse Petrov said.
â€œYeah, itâ€™s been bad, bad weather,â€ the man said. â€œWell, listen, we donâ€™t have much in the way of â€¦ what were you doing coming this way?â€
â€œI was trying to get to Fort Mickle?â€ Cloverfield said.
â€œWhat is Fort Mickle?â€ the man said.
â€œFort McCree?â€ Nurse Petrov guessed.
â€œI just know itâ€™s a fort,â€ Cloverfield said.
â€œSo, youâ€™re lost,â€ the man said.
â€œWell, we were trying to get this â€¦ Fort place â€¦ and thereâ€™s a doctor there we were trying to speak to,â€ Cloverfield said.
â€œWe got two doctors in town,â€ the man said. â€œIs somebody sick?â€
â€œNo, a professor,â€ Cloverfield said.
â€œOh, I see,â€ the man said. â€œWell, youâ€™re not going anywhere tonight.â€
â€œToo late,â€ Wallin said.
â€œObviously,â€ Nurse Petrov said.
â€œTell you what, Iâ€™ll go wake up Mr. Oâ€™Brien at the hotel, weâ€™ll get you all some rooms,â€ the man said. â€œUm â€¦ is anybody hurt? I can send for Dr. Reddick and wake him up.â€
â€œOnly bump,â€ Nurse Petrov said.
â€œNothing too bad,â€ Wallin said.
â€œAfter all, we wouldnâ€™t want to lose the first visitors this town has had in years, now, would we?â€ the man said.
â€œDo you know man with long, white beard, no moustache, balding?â€ Nurse Petrov said.
â€œUh â€¦â€ the man said.
â€œIt might be Johnson Bice?â€ the first man said.
â€œJohnson Bice?â€ the man said. â€œWhy heâ€™s all wracked with arthritis. He wouldnâ€™tâ€™ve been out. Why? He lives on the other side of town.â€
â€œUnfortunately, car lost control,â€ Nurse Petrov said. â€œWe slide. We hit man. Look like that. By accident.â€
â€œOh,â€ the younger man said.
â€œHe was also in some overalls,â€ Wallin said.
â€œBefore he died, he rambled about how nobody can leave this place and that he was sad that he was never going to because we hit him with the car accidentally,â€ Pavil said.
â€œOh,â€ the younger man said.
â€œHe was mental,â€ Nurse Petrov said. â€œCame out of nowhere.â€
â€œSounds like he was just rambling, then if you hit him with a car,â€ the younger man said. â€œIt might be. Iâ€™ll go check on his house and see if heâ€™s home.â€
Cloverfield told him where the body and the motorcar both were.
â€œIâ€™ll see what I can do about that,â€ the man said. â€œIâ€™ll see what I can. If youâ€™ll come with me. Just put your coats back on. Iâ€™m sorry about this. We donâ€™t want to keep Mr. McKensey up, do we?â€
The other man shook his head, still very frightened.
â€œApologies,â€ Nurse Petrov said.
The man nodded his head.
â€œDid I say that right?â€ Nurse Petrov said.
â€œYes,â€ Wallin said.
The younger man led them down the street. They passed more homes, a bank, a restaurant, a billiard hall, a drugstore, and a boarded up building marked â€œPerdition Post.â€ Then they passed a Dr. Reddickâ€™s, a meat shop or butcher, and finally to a three-story building with the sign â€œHotelâ€ out front. The man knocked and the man who answered seemed very nervous as he opened the door to the young man, saying â€œItâ€™s Ezekiel!â€
â€œAndrew, we need some rooms,â€ Ezekiel said. â€œWe got some strangers in town and they need a place to stay. And â€¦ uh â€¦ this is Andrew Oâ€™Brien, he runs this hotel.â€
The building stood on cross-streets.
â€œIâ€™ll have to clean â€˜em up,â€ Oâ€™Brien said. â€œWe havenâ€™t had anybody in so long. Sorry the rooms are going to be kind of cold but Iâ€™ll get you extra blankets. The old wood furnace, it doesnâ€™t work like it used to.â€
Oâ€™Brien scurried up the stairs. Ezekiel hesitated.
â€œIf you want to come over for breakfast tomorrow morning, Iâ€™ll have some breakfast,â€ he said. â€œI live right across the street here.â€
They could see the large house directly across the street.
â€œVery kind,â€ Nurse Petrov said.
â€œYouâ€™re lucky you found the town,â€ Ezekiel said. â€œA night like this â€¦ people wonâ€™t live through a night like this. Not in the Appalachians.â€
â€œHeck no,â€ Wallin said.
â€œWell, Iâ€™ll leave you in the capable hands of Mr. Oâ€™Brien here,â€ Ezekiel said.
It was several minutes before Oâ€™Brien came back down. He led them upstairs nervously and they noticed dust in the air of each room. The rooms smelled musty, as if no one had been in there for years. It was very cold in the rooms but Oâ€™Brien brought them each several blankets and quilts. He left a burning candle in each of their rooms before he left. Cloverfield seemed very displeased with the accommodations.
Each room had a single bed, basins and jugs on a dry sink, chest of drawers, and chests with more blankets and quilts. Velvet curtains covered the windows and the whole place felt very out-of-date. Oâ€™Brien took the jug from each room and returned with it filled with cold water. He pointed out the chamber pots under each bed. He finally bid them each goodnight, telling them if they needed anything they could find his room behind the stairs. They thanked him and he nervously left them.
Pavil was relieved he could not hear any clocks.
They were not given keys to their rooms and the bolts in the inside of the doors had obviously been removed long ago. Both Cloverfield and Pavil slept with their pistols under their pillows.
Pavil sat in front of the chest at the foot of his bed and reassembled his Springfield rifle before he went to bed.
Nurse Petrov pulled back the curtains to look out her window. She couldnâ€™t see much outside but noticed the frost that had already formed on the inside of the window. She realized the curtains were closed to act as further insulation.
Wallin slipped his chainsaw out of his bag and under the bed.
* * *
All of them had nightmares and unsettling dreams through the night, though only Wallin could remember what he had dreamed.
He dreamt he was carrying books and scrolls that were old and hoary through a mine shaft. He put them down and started to intone a chant. It seemed to last for a long time. When he stopped, nothing happened. Then he felt something moving on his arm. He reached down to pull back his shirt at the sudden large, strange bulge there â€¦ and awoke.
* * *
Pavil woke up very early on Saturday, February 16, 1924, as was usual for him. He got up from the warm bed into the cold room and opened up the curtains. Outside, a layer of snow made the scene almost picturesque, were it not for how terrible the town looked. It was worse in the daylight. Buildings hadnâ€™t been painted in years and even the sky was gray and dreary.
â€œI donâ€™t know what I expected,â€ he muttered to himself.
There was a knock on the door. He found James Wallin there. Wallin noticed the Springfield rifle on the chest.
â€œYou still got that flask, buddy?â€ Wallin said.
â€œYes, I do,â€ Pavil said.
â€œYou mind if I have a swig?â€
â€œNot at all.â€
He produced the flask and Wallin took a drink of the whiskey. Pavil joined him, warming himself.
â€œI had a horrible dream last night,â€ Wallin said.
â€œI had some bad ones but I donâ€™t remember â€˜em,â€ Pavil said.
â€œOh. I was in â€¦ a mineshaft. Had some books on me. I â€¦ I donâ€™t know what that is.â€
â€œI started speaking some â€¦ weird mumbo jumbo. Donâ€™t really know what it was â€¦ and then everything just sort of stopped and I felt something on my arm. It was bulging.â€
â€œYou were in a mineshaft with books, you started speaking some weird language, and something touched you?â€
â€œNo. Not something touched me. My arm just sort of started â€¦ bulging.â€
â€œYeah. Donâ€™t know what it could mean. All I know is, Iâ€™m ready for some breakfast. Didnâ€™t Oâ€™Brien say â€¦â€
Pavil had taken out a little notebook and jotted down what Wallin had told him about the dream.
â€œDidnâ€™t that bald man say there was a mine somewhere in this town?â€ Wallin said.
â€œYes, he did,â€ Pavil said. â€œAnd that makes it even more disturbing. Did Deryl ever talk to you about the house?â€
â€œHe talked to me a little bit about it. We were really, really drunk the night he talked to me about that. He later told me about more about New York City thought.â€
â€œWhat happened in New York City?â€
â€œBasically, some mobsters shot at him and then there was this man who was playing a trumpet that was apparently raising the dead? I donâ€™t know if I believe that. But, from what I can remember about the house, he told me there was some sort of haunting in there.â€
â€œThatâ€™s one way to put it.â€
â€œAnyways. Iâ€™m ready for breakfast. Hopefully, Iâ€™ll see you down there soon. By the way, nice weapon.â€
â€œThank you. I kept it from the War. And I will never let it go.â€
Pavil had pulled a rosary from his pocket and handled it nervously.
Wallin left the man, using his chamber pot and heading downstairs. He found Oâ€™Brien down in the kitchen, cooking some eggs and ham. He was also toasting homemade bread.
â€œOh!â€ he said when Wallin entered. â€œOh. Hello.â€
â€œHello,â€ Wallin said.
â€œJust cooking â€¦ thereâ€™s a dining room right there. Through there. Iâ€™ll bring you something to eat.â€
Wallin went into the simple dining room and Oâ€™Brien brought him food. It was very bland and there were no seasonings on the table either. He also brought him a glass of well water.
* * *