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Valentine's in Innsmouth Part 2 - Secret Entry into Innsmouth

Max_Writer

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* * *

 

 

 

As they had all been in the Dreamlands before, they knew the way through the door to the Cavern of Flame in which burned a great pillar of fire that reached from floor to ceiling. They passed Kaman-Thah and Nasht, passing down the 700 steps and through the Gates of Deeper Slumber, entering finally into the Enchanted Wood. They eventually found their way to Celephais where they boarded one of the ships to the floating city of Serannian. There, they were easily able to find Mitzividor, a great castle of white marble where Cousin Melba lived as The White Maiden while in the Dreamlands. She was delighted to see them all.

 

The children the cousins had rescued that magical Christmas in Kingsport had all long since grown up as time flowed differently but much more quickly in the Dreamlands. However, Melba had adopted more children since then, always bringing Dreamlands orphans into her home. She introduced the children there to them all once again.

 

There were numerous krampus in the castle as well, acting as servants and helpers. Gordon had made amends with the krampus he had badly injured with the axe on their first meeting and they had become the best of friends. He was glad to see Gordon.

 

“Hans!†Gordon said.

 

“How joo doing?†the krampus said to him in the thick, krampus accent.

 

They had a lavish and splendid dinner with Cousin Melba and her children.

 

“I haven’t felt comfortable enough to go along this line of questioning yet, about Aunt Margie,†Alice said.

 

“That’s fine,†Melba said to her.

 

“Do you have any information?â€

 

“Aunt Margie? Is that your aunt from Innsmouth?â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“I never really knew her. I know that the Innsmouth people are strange. I never learned much about them.â€

 

“I knew her very well. She … she saved me … when I was … when I was … younger.â€

 

“Good. That’s great. I don’t know much about her though. I never met her in the real world. I’ve never seen her in the Dreamlands or at least she’s never come here. What do you need to know about her? I might be able to look up some things in Kingsport in the real world.â€

 

“Well, she sick with some kind of illness I was never told the name of. And she … my family said she had to go away. But … I just never believed that. I … her house is empty and … I’ve never seen her. I have had possible glimpses of … I don’t know what inside of her windows … I … probably a figment of my imagination but still, I can’t get it out of my mind.â€

 

“Do you think she might still be there? Even after the raid and everything.â€

 

“I hope … she’s not a ghost.â€

 

“I don’t know much about her at all.â€

 

Alice started crying and Melba took the girl into her arms and held her.

 

“If there’s anything I can do in the real world to help you … or here,†she said. “You let me know. Do you need a ride up there? I haven’t been up there. I know the military’s still up there from what I’ve heard. Are they still up there?â€

 

“I have concocted a lavish, perfectly impenetrable plan … to get us into Innsmouth,†Edward said.

 

In the Dreamlands, Edward never stuttered and his voice was warm and smooth like rich, perfect coffee.

 

“Several plans,†Alice said.

 

“You can trust me to get everyone in there safely,†he said.

 

“So, you don’t need any help from me at all?†Melba said. “I could borrow a car. I could drive you all up there.â€

 

“That would be nice,†Alice said.

 

“How would we get past …†Edward said.

 

“We wouldn’t have to arrange─â€

 

“… the military checkpoints?â€

 

“I-I don’t know,†Melba said. “I haven’t been up to Innsmouth since the raid. I don’t know about any military checkpoints. I could ask─â€

 

“And this is the superiority … of my amazing plan,†Edward said.

 

“I could act as a distraction,†Melba said.

 

“So, it would be safer to ride our bikes individually?†Alice said.

 

“The distraction plan is something I did not think of,†Edward said. “But I like the bikes plan still because it’s the one I came up with. I still think it’s very good. I put a lot of work into it.â€

 

“Are you planning on going into Innsmouth?†Melba said.

 

“Well, yes,†Alice said.

 

“Okay,†Melba said. “Be careful. I’ve heard there’s strange things that happen out there.â€

 

They looked at each other.

 

“Yes,†Alice said. “We’re aware.â€

 

“Do you have any details … on the strange things?†Edward asked.

 

“No,†Melba said. “There’s … I’ve heard about fishermen who fished in their waters, from Falcon’s Point and Martin’s Beach, and … bad things happened to them. They’re boats got stove in, their nets got torn and ripped to shreds.â€

 

“Such a terrible thing to be afraid of the water,†Alice said.

 

“Yeah. That’s what I’ve heard. Well, I’d like to help somehow. When are you planning on going?â€

 

“When we wake up.â€

 

“Are all of you here? I mean, are you in Innsmouth right now?â€

 

“No.â€

 

“Well, if we were in Innsmouth, we probably wouldn’t be talking about the plan to get into Innsmouth that we have yet to enact,†Edward said.

 

“You’re so clever, Edward,†Melba said with a smile. “You’re right.â€

 

“Don’t be such a smartie to Melba,†Gerdie said. “Melba’s so nice.â€

 

Melba smiled at her.

 

“But he’s right,†she said. “Okay, where are all of you?â€

 

“We’re in Ipswich,†Alice said.

 

“You’re in Ipswich. Okay.â€

 

“We’re at my house.â€

 

“That’s not far from Innsmouth. I tell you what. I don’t work tomorrow. I’ll drive up to Ipswich tomorrow. There’s someone I can borrow a motorcar from.â€

 

She smiled. Melba had several suitors in the both the real world and the Dreamlands.

 

“When are you going in?†she asked. “After dark?â€

 

“I think with the cover of dark that would be best,†Alice said.

 

Melba said she would drive up to Ipswich that night around dinnertime and surprise everyone. If there was anything the children needed from her or the vehicle, she would be there for them. After that, she’d at least be around if they needed her. She didn’t know what she could do to help, but she’d be there to help if she could.

 

She hugged Alice and the rest.

 

They spent what felt like weeks in the Dreamlands, enjoying themselves. They all tried to learn the language of cats, most of them without luck. Gerdie learned some of the cat language from one of the cats in Melba’s palace. She also tried to get one of the krampus to teach her how to smell things. She wanted to learn how to sniff someone out.

 

“Hold on,†the krampus said to her. “Barry!â€

 

A small krampus came out.

 

“Teach her how to sneeff,†the first said to him.

 

“Oh jes!†Barry said. “I teach you how to sneeff! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!â€

 

He did his best to teach her how to track via small. It wasn’t easy as she wasn’t really built for it, having a human nose and all.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

When they got up the next morning, Saturday, February 16, 1929, Alice asked Donald if Simon slept. He told her he didn’t know and had never thought to ask. He supposed if Simon did sleep, he did so when he slept.

 

“W-w-w-w-wait a minute!†Edward squeaked. “Do you just go to sleep with him looking over your bed?â€

 

“No, he goes to sleep too,†Donald said. “I think. He likes to stay in the closet, sometimes. Sometimes he goes under the bed. And sometimes he’s just gone, ‘cause he just kind of fades away. Where do you go when you fade away?â€

 

He looked over by the door to the room.

 

“It is too my business,†he said.

 

He listened.

 

“Okay, fine!†he said. “Wow. Don’t ask him that question! He doesn’t like that question, apparently. What is wrong with you? Okay. Okay, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry! Okay. It’s okay.â€

 

“I’d feel safer is someone was watching me,†Gerdie said.

 

George shuddered.

 

“U-u-u-u-unfortunately, I would not get that impression,†Edward said. “It would be very bothersome.â€

 

“Simon would watch over you,†Donald said to Gerdie. “If you want.â€

 

“Aw, thanks Simon,†Gerdie said.

 

“I don’t want a 9-year-old watching me while I sleep,†Edward said again.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

That day was spent with the families at Alice’s house. They had a large breakfast and a fine dinner, with Cousin Melba arriving unannounced as a surprise as she said she would. Gerdie impressed her by whispering “Hello†in the language of cats. A very enjoyable evening was had by all of them. Melba found time to tell all of the children she was going to leave after dinner but she would be around Innsmouth. Edward told her of their plan and she thought it a good idea. She warned them to be careful.

 

Near dark, the parents all went their own ways, George and Edward’s parents to the nearby hotel, Gordon’s parents into the back of the truck, and Gerdie’s parents into the living room to sleep. Cousin Melba left as well.

 

Alice’s mother gave her a kiss on the cheek before the girl went to bed.

 

“This was a great idea, Alice,†she said. “I’m glad you suggested it.â€

 

That left the children alone.

 

After they were certain their parents were asleep, they snuck out and borrowed bicycles from a place Alice knew there were several. Edward had brought his own bicycle. George was disappointed he had a girl’s bike.

 

“C’mon!†he muttered.

 

Alice punched him on the shoulder.

 

“Ow!†he said. “Stop!â€

 

“George, shut up and get on the bike,†Gordon said.

 

“Why does he get a boy’s bike?†George said.

 

“Your ideas of gender are atrocious!†Alice said to him.

 

“It’s only one bar of iron,†Gerdie said.

 

Donald helped Simon get on the bike.

 

Some of the bikes had bells and some had electric lights powered by a generator. They agreed not to use either.

 

They headed for Innsmouth. It took them about an hour to get there but it was a cold, clear night. They went to the road where there were two concrete barricades. They saw some light up at the checkpoint on the other road nearby. They went around the barricade and, as they were riding up the road, they saw a dark-colored sedan pull up to the checkpoint and, after a few minutes, drive on into Innsmouth.

 

The smell of fish grew stronger as they approached the decrepit town. They noticed some light came from the village and Alice realized the streetlights, which had burned intermittently in certain parts of the village when she had lived there, still worked. Most of the streets were cloaked in darkness, but certain parts of town had working lights, she remembered. That changed her plans somewhat.

 

Gerdie was riding her bike with her shovel on the handlebars, holding it ahead of her and thinking of it as a dowsing rod. Alice gave the girl a look but realized stranger things had happened. Donald whispered over his shoulder to Simon.

 

They went around the barricade on the other side of the road that became Fall Street and stopped. The houses there looked like they were about to fall down. They were decrepit, the sidewalks there in disrepair though the street seemed to be in decent shape.

 

They rode up Fall Street without issue until they reached the Marsh Street Green at the intersection of Marsh, Fall, and Bates Streets. The streets surrounding the large, iron-railed green were in poor shape. Weeds growing up inside the fenced green had taken firm root well into the pavement, filling the cracks in the street with dandelions and thistles, all dead in that time of year. The dead, waist-high weeds of the green hid the remains of a toppled Indian statue and rotting park bench.

 

Gerdie sniffed around, hoping to smell Aunt Margie, but the stench of fish was very strong. Alice told them the route she hoped to take to Aunt Margie’s house on the northern side of town.

 

Gordon suggested they all pair off in case anything happened or they had to separate. He thought someone who was good at hitting something and someone who was smart was the best way. They decided Donald and George were a pair, Gordon and Gerdie were a pair, and Edmund and Alice were a pair. When they called Donald and George “three,†do to Simon, George frowned.

 

“Two and a half,†he said.

 

“And … that’s rude,†Alice said.

 

“Don’t be mean to Simon!†Gerdie said.

 

“He has a soul and no body,†George said calmly. “He’s half a person.â€

 

Alice slapped George firmly in the face.

 

“Ow!†he said. “Stop it, Alice!â€

 

They also decided if they all got separated or something they would meet back at that spot and hide in the tall, dead weeds, despite the fact that Bertie thought they should meet at the remains of the old lighthouse on the southern tip of the breakwater in the harbor. It looked, from that distance, like nothing more than a jumble of stones.

 

“You can see it from here, so it would make a good meet up spot,†she said.

 

They discussed whether or not to ride their bikes. In the end, they decided to walk their bikes to allow them to hide if need be or use them to flee.

 

They continued along Fall Street but, as they approached the next intersection, which Alice knew was Waite Street though there were no street signs, they spotted two armed soldiers walking down the street towards them. Each of the men carried a flashlight and had a rifle on his shoulder.

 

Gerdie said “hide†in the language of cats.

 

None of them knew that language.

 

They all went to ground, hiding as best they could in the cluttered street. Gerdie disappeared into the darkness but Gordon knocked over an old garbage can as he tried to hide. Donald was also loud, dropping his bicycle and shushing Simon. Edward lay down in the gutter next to the street. Alice picked a terrible hiding place and didn’t realize there was a beam of moonlight shining on the back of her head.

 

The soldiers obviously heard the children and started to walk towards them more quickly when there was a crash from down Waite street in the direction of the New Town Square. The soldiers stopped and there was another crash. They took their rifles off their shoulders and headed down that way, shining their flashlights ahead of them.

 

Gerdie meowed it was clear.

 

“What are you saying?†Alice asked.

 

“Gerdie, stop rubbing it in!†Gordon said.

 

“D-d-d-d─†Edward said.

 

“She’s been learning cat,†Donald said.

 

“D-d-d-d-does this mean I should talk in Latin now?†Edward said.

 

“No!†Alice said.

 

“No Ed,†Gordon said.

 

“That’s even worse!†Alice said.

 

“Just don’t talk at all!†George said.

 

“No, you can still talk,†Gordon said. “Just don’t talk in Latin.â€

 

Alice glared at George.

 

“I’m going to slap you in the face again if you don’t stop that,†she said.

 

“You gonna slap him too?†George said.

 

They quickly moved down the opposite way down Waite Street.

 

As they passed a house on Waite Street, they thought they heard a heavy breathing coming from one of the few remaining buildings. They had moved into an area that was desolate and most of the houses has been demolished. The street was unpaved and it was very dark. There were some warehouses still standing in the area. The breathing sound seemed to be coming from one of those out of a broken window.

 

They kept walking but Edward slowed to look at the building. As he did so, the breathing stopped and he heard the slapping of wet feet as if something were running away into the darkness of the edifice. Gerdie held her shovel out towards the sound and didn’t seem to think it minded it.

 

“S-s-s-somebody just got out of a bath,†Edward said, trying to make a joke.

 

Alice just looked at him.

 

They continued down to Water Street where most of the buildings were simply rubble and debris as if they had been blown up or burned down. As they approached the bridge over the frozen Manuxet River, they saw three more soldiers walking down the street towards them from the other side.

 

The children hid as best they could. George and Donald actually hid in the darkness, tucking their bikes among the rubble. Gerdie and Alice managed to hide themselves.

 

Gordon and Edward both tried to climb down the short embankment below the bridge. Both of them slipped on the dirt and loose grass there and slid all the way down to the ice, crashing at the bottom. Both of them slid away, having lost their bicycles, which slowly slid off in another direction.

 

The soldiers heard and stopped on the bridge, looking down. One of them took the rifle from his shoulder while the other two shined flashlights down onto the ice below.

 

“Who’s that down there?†one yelled. “Don’t move! Don’t move!â€

 

“Stand up!†another man yelled.

 

The soldier with the rifle wasn’t pointing it at the boys but held it ready as the other two soldiers worked their way down the embankment to the ice below.

 

“C’mere!†one of them said.

 

They made for the boys who were struggling to stand up. Edward tried to run away, sliding along the ice to the embankment on the opposite side of the river. Gordon tried as well but fell, slamming onto the ice face-first. The soldier grabbed him by the arm and picked him up.

 

“Boy, just hold still!†the soldier said to Gordon. “Just hold still!â€

 

“I’m a dog!†Edward shrieked as he slid across the ice to the other side of the river, the soldier close on his heels. “I’m a dog! I’m not a person, I’m a dog.â€

 

He ran up the embankment and around a broken building to hide behind the rubble, trying to bury himself. The soldier wasn’t fooled.

 

“I’m a dog!†Edward said, panicking. “Bark bark!â€

 

The soldiers snatched the boy up and dragged him back to the bridge.

 

“Hold still, boy,†the soldier that had Gordon said. “We’re not gonna hurt you.â€

 

“Bark bark!†Edward squealed. “I’m a dog!â€

 

“There’s something wrong with this kid,†the soldier that held Edward said.

 

“Let me go! I’m a dog!â€

 

“There’s something really wrong with this kid, I think. Kid, we’re not gonna hurt you. We’re not gonna hurt you.â€

 

“What?â€

 

They met on the bridge once again and started to head to the north along Water Street in the same direction the children had been going. Alice followed them at a distance, trying to stay hidden in the shadows. Donald and George followed her.

 

“Where’d Gerdie go?†Donald whispered.

 

“She’s dead,†George whispered back.

 

“She’s right there,†Donald said, spotting Gerdie in the shadows.

 

Gerdie followed, a little despondent that she’d lost her buddy. The three of them caught up with Alice.

 

“Where you going?†George whispered.

 

“We gotta do something!†Alice said.

 

“They have guns!†George whispered.

 

“So!?!†Alice said, brandishing her two knives.

 

“We’re so close, we should go to Aunt Margie’s house,†Gerdie whispered. “Then we’ll figure it out.â€

 

The soldiers took a left on Dock Street and headed down towards the Old Town Square where there light spilled from the streetlamps there.

 

“If we get caught too, then we can’t do anything,†Gerdie whispered.

 

“Yeah, but, we’re supposed to all be together for this!†Alice whispered.

 

“We’ll get together later,†Gerdie said.

 

“Edward’s smart!†George said. “He’ll figure it out. He’s tricky. So’s Gordon. Gordon’ll probably insult ‘em ‘til they pass out.â€

 

They could see several vehicles parked in the Old Town Square as they stopped before they reached the lit streets.

 

“That looks like a bivouac,†George said.

 

“A … what?†Alice said.

 

“That’s where they stay, where they live. I bet that’s where they’re staying.â€

 

“A what?â€

 

“A bivouac. That’s where you lay your head. It means a camp, okay? It’s just a camp. That’s the soldiers’ base, I bet.â€

 

They decided to continue up Water Street on their original route. All of the buildings there had been demolished and then they heard something moving in the rubble. Alice crouched down and Gerdie meowed “friend.†A moment later, she heard a meow and a ragged black cat came out of the debris. It asked her for food while Alice looked back and forth between Gerdie and the cat.

 

Alice meowed a question, the purr rising up at the end.

 

She tried to say “friend or foe†but both Gerdie and the cat looked at her quizzically. The cat continued to ask Gerdie for food. Gerdie sniffed around for fish but the stench of fish was everywhere.

 

“Food,†the cat said to her again. “C’mon!â€

 

“Follow,†Gerdie said in cat.

 

“Okay,†the cat replied. “Bad stuff underground.â€

 

“Gerdie, what’s up?†Alice asked. “What is she saying?â€

 

“It wants food but it says don’t go underground,†Gerdie said.

 

“Why the hell would we go underground!?!†George said.

 

“I don’t know,†Gerdie said.

 

“C’mon, let’s take her with us,†Alice said.

 

George looked around nervously as they moved one. The cat followed Gerdie and, about a block up, where Church Street met Water Street, they found a small, stinking pile of rotted fish guts and bones in a terrible corner. The cat seemed quite happy with the find. Gerdie took the coins out of her handkerchief and tucked them safely in her pocket. She scooped up some of the rotten guts and bones and put them in the handkerchief to take with her. The cat followed her.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

The soldiers took Edward and Gordon to a square north of the river where there were lights. There were more Ford pickup trucks and motorcycles painted olive drab in the square. Several soldiers were present as well. The boys were taken to a building on the square that had a brick storefront with dusty windows. The sign hanging overheard read “Dr. Rowley Marsh―General Practitioner.†Below, in smaller letters was written “Ralsa Marsh―Law Consultant.†A long, black Cadillac sedan sat out front.

 

They were taken into the building and to a small front office where there were two doors, one on either side of the hall. They were made to wait there with one of the soldiers. The other went to one of the doors in the back and entered.

 

Sometime later, two gentlemen came in from the back. One of them was an older man with a mustache and a stern face. The other man was younger and clean-shaven. Both of them wore suits and motioned for the soldier to bring the boys into the back. They sat the boys on a bench in the room, taking Gordon’s axe and placing it on the desk. Then both soldiers left.

 

The older man grabbed Edward by the shoulder.

 

“Sit still, boy,†he said.

 

“O-o-o-o-o-o-okay,†Edward squeaked.

 

The man got very close to the boy’s face and looked in his eyes and then at his mouth and finally he turned the cowering boy’s head from side to side and examined his neck closely. He did the same to Gordon. He finally stood back from the boys.

 

“What are you doing in Innsmouth?†he asked.

 

“W-w-w-w-w-w-we’re …†Edward stuttered.

 

“Ed, just let me talk,†Gordon said. “I bed Ed here we could sneak in the town because he didn’t think we could do it. Because you know with all y’all soldiers in here, he said we couldn’t do it and I wanted to prove him wrong.â€

 

“W-w-w-were you checking us for the … plague?†Edward squeaked.

 

“Where you from?†the man asked.

 

“I-Ipswich,†Edward stuttered.

 

“I’m from out in Dunwich,†Gordon said. “I was just in town visiting him.â€

 

“What’s your name?†the man asked.

 

“Michael … Filbin,†Edward lied.

 

Gordon pinched his nose in frustration. He had already called Edward by his name.

 

“How about you, boy?†the man asked. “What’s your name?â€

 

“I’m Gordon,†Gordon said. “Gordon Brewster.â€

 

“Who’s this? Who’s the lying boy?â€

 

“My cousin Ed. Believe me, I thought he was smart.â€

 

The man walked over to the desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out a hammer, putting it on the desk next to the axe.

 

“Now, why are you here?†he asked against.

 

“W-w-w-well …†Ed said.

 

The man picked the hammer up and hit the desk hard with it. The noise was loud and startled Edward.

 

“I want the truth!†he said. “Next time I use this hammer, there’s going to be a finger under it, you understand?â€

 

“I-I-I-I was reading about Innsmouth,†Edward stammered. “And I was - I was just really curious. I-I-I-I-I read a lot of books and I wanted to know if it was - if it was true, all the things they said.â€

 

“Who are you with?â€

 

“I’m with my cousin.â€

 

“Who else?â€

 

“I don’t know. We don’t have … I ain’t with anybody else. I’m scared. You’re about to hammer my hands.â€

 

“If need be.â€

 

“Oh God!â€

 

“I’m trying to protect this great country from horrors … from things that are trying to infiltrate the American people.â€

 

“Am I a horror?â€

 

“That remains to be seen.â€

 

“Oh God!â€

 

“Harry, they’re just a couple of kids!†the other man said.

 

The older man shushed him.

 

“Shut it!†he said. “Something’s going on, isn’t it?â€

 

“Maybe,†the younger man said.

 

“Couple kids just decide to come in tonight on a dare,†the older man said, then turned to Gordon. “On a dare, you say?â€

 

“Yes sir,†Gordon said.

 

He shoved Gordon’s shoulder, none too gentle.

 

“It’s like I told you, he bet we couldn’t get in,†Gordon said, sticking with his story. “I bet we could.â€

 

“Mm-hm,†the older man said. “Interesting. Let’s see what else we can find out.â€

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Alice, Gerdie, Donald, George, and the cat reached the intersection of Martin Street and Water Street. Alice noticed a couple of suspiciously large crabs scuttle out of the rubble nearby.

 

“What the hell is that?†George said, pointing his bat at the things.

 

“That’s … that’s not good,†Alice said. “Those are not good.â€

 

She picked up her pace, heading up Martin Street.

 

“What does that mean!?!†George said, also walking faster.

 

The others followed suit. Gerdie looked at the shovel, expecting it to show her good things. She looked at the cat, expecting it to warn her of danger. She was not disappointed when the cat ran after Alice.

 

A block from Aunt Margie’s house, between Fish Street and Main Street, there was a horrible stench unlike anything any of them had smelled before. It was the terrible stink of death and decay and something worse. They spotted, on a building that was mostly intact, a black, tarry slime near a large hole at the base of the building. George cursed at the stench and they all stopped.

 

“What is that?†he said.

 

“We should go to Aunt Margie’s first,†Gerdie said.

 

Alice pulled her coat tighter around her and looked towards the cat. It crossed the street away from the terrible smell and kept walking. All of the children avoided it the hole.

 

After they carefully crossed the intersection at Main Street, they saw a strange symbol on a wall not far from Aunt Margie’s house. It appeared to be a star with a flame in the center of it. Alice didn’t like it. It made her uneasy. Gerdie recognized it as an elder sign, a protective symbol she sometimes saw in her strange dreams. The cat didn’t seem bothered by it at all. The shovel seemed indifferent to it.

 

Aunt Margie’s house stood on the corner of Fall Street and Martin Street, facing south onto the latter. The older Georgian house had a gambrel roof and two windows to the attic on the third floor. The first and second story windows and doors were all boarded up but the decrepit structured looked little different than it had before Alice left Innsmouth. There was no sign of life in the place or any suggestion anyone lived there.

 

Alice was suddenly hesitant, stopping in front of the building.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Edward was taken to the office next door, which appeared to have once been a doctor’s office but now had several cots set up on one side. The older man got in the boy’s face and started being a little rough with him. Edward told the man he was telling Gordon all about how creepy Innsmouth was and they got into an argument about it so they decided to try to creep into the town. Then the soldiers caught them. They were just going around the houses to try to look for weird and spooky stuff.

 

The man didn’t seem to believe him.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

The old man returned to the room where Gordon was being watched by the younger man. He grilled Gordon roughly but the boy stuck with his story. The man told Gordon that wasn’t what Edward had told him.

 

“What about the others that came with you?†he said.

 

“We had one other cousin that came with us but they chickened out at the last minute,†Gordon said.

 

“Who?â€

 

“Huh?â€

 

“What was that cousin’s name?â€

 

“Name was George.â€

 

“Where’s he from?â€

 

“Huh?â€

 

“Where is he from? Is he from Innsmouth?â€

 

“He was in town with the rest of us. He’s from Arkham. All three of us showed up. He was tagging along. All three of us showed up and at the last minute he said ‘Nah, I’m not doing this.’â€

 

“Why didn’t you mention him before?â€

 

“Huh?â€

 

“Why didn’t you mention him before?â€

 

“Huh? You didn’t ask.â€

 

The man grabbed Gordon’s hand and held it down on the desk.

 

“You can - you can─†Gordon said.

 

The man had picked up the hammer and slammed it down on the desk next to the boy’s hand. It startled Gordon.

 

“Sir, you can do that all night,†Gordon said. “It’s nothing compared to what my daddy’ll do to me.â€

 

“What’s your daddy’s name?†the man said.

 

Gordon told him.

 

“Where is he?†the man asked.

 

“Huh?†Gordon said. “He’s back in town.â€

 

“Define ‘town.’â€

 

“Ipswich.â€

 

“Uh-huh.â€

 

“So, who are you staying with in Ipswich?â€

 

Gordon told him he was staying with the Sanders.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

The old man entered the room where Edward waited with the younger man.

 

“Your cousin’s made of tough stuff,†he told Edward. “Didn’t even scream when I broke his finger.â€

 

Edward squeaked.

 

“H-h-he didn’t …†he muttered. “Y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y─â€

 

“Go in there and help that boy,†he said to the younger man. “See if you can set it. Or, if you can’t set it, just cut it off.â€

 

The younger man left.

 

“I’m tired of all these lies,†the older man said. “Who are you here with and where are you going?â€

 

“I was just - I was just─†Edward stammered. “I was just here with Gordie. We were gonna see - we were gonna see the plague and the spookies─â€

 

“A party?â€

 

“Gordie! Gordie! It’s his name! His name is Gordie! We call him Gordie! It’s a nickname! Oh God!â€

 

“You’re very persuasive son, but you’ve got to understand something. There are things going on in this town that not only threaten the United States but the people in it. There are things in this town that are trying to destroy the human race. You understand that? They’re trying to change us into something we’re not. They’re very dangerous, and if you’re not going to help me, then I’m going to have to find out some way to get some help.â€

 

“If you’d elaborate on that, let me write it down, I’ll get out of your hair instantly! I just find out─â€

 

“You can’t write any of this down.â€

 

“I don’t have to write it down. That was a lie. You can just tell it to me. I’m just curious.â€

 

“If I get another lie out of you after this, I’m throwing your ass in jail.â€

 

He looked at the boy carefully before he went on.

 

“There are things, living on Devil’s Reef, that have been breeding with the people of Innsmouth and changing them into half-human, half-fish creatures,†he finally said.

 

“I thought my friend told me - he couldn’t - he couldn’t do it with a fish,†Edward muttered.

 

“They’re not fish. They’re fish people. They’ve evolved next to us for millions of years.â€

 

“How did the fish people start?â€

 

“I don’t know. But we’re trying to protect this county. The raid last year was to stop them. Now, are you going to help me, and protect whomever else is here with you? Or not?â€

 

Edward was certain the man was telling him more than he probably should have and felt he was being completely honest with him. It was unnerving. He also felt like the man would do anything he needed to do to get the information and the truth.

 

“Will you help us?†the old man said again.

 

 

* * *

 

 


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