The Armitage Files

In which it turns out that violence sometimes is the answer

Friday, October 18, 1935

Jackson and Whateley go to the carnival and talk to Jasper Drake, who tells them about his encounter with Clement Pivar. Clem apparently made some vague legal threats, asserting that Alfie was a minor, and that he, Clem, was the boy’s “father and legal guardian.” Drake sent him to talk to Earl Murdoch. They can get the rest of the story from him, but as Drake understands it, Murdoch thought there was something “hinky” about the elder Pivar and sent him away, since Alfie said he didn’t know the man. Before they leave to speak to Murdoch, Dr. Whateley asks about the carnival’s future plans. Drake tells her they’re doing a few days in Lexington, Mass, and possibly a weekend in Connecticut before heading to Florida for the winter.

Murdoch confirms what Drake told them, and adds that Clem offered him $20 to “talk to the boy for five minutes,” which he refused. He dispatched a couple of roustabouts to make sure Pivar left the carnival grounds.

They find Alfie, who seems nervous and frightened, and tell him about the men they saw in the woods. Alfie tells them, “I don’t want anybody else to get hurt because of me, but if I go with them I think it might be worse. I don’t know what I can do.” Dr. Whateley gets him to talk about the Pivar-Spalding clan. They all live on the Spaulding farm outside Stanhope. There were about twenty people living there a few years ago, including women and children. “What you saw was probably all the grown men.”

Seeing the parallels with her own cousin Wilbur, she asks him what books Clem has. “He’s got a big black book that he made himself.” Apparently he copied it out by hand from other sources. Alfie’s heard him mention the Necronomicon, Pnakotic Manuscripts, and the Red Dragon Grimoire (which Alfie, unfamiliar with French, pronounces as “Grimmery”). Does anyone else but Clem know magic? “I don’t think so, but when Clem was trying to teach me the formulas, his son Silas was there sometimes and he might have picked something up.”

Dr. Whateley then heads back to Miskatonic and asks Dr. Armitage about the Pnakotic Manuscripts and, in general, what sort of counter-measures they can take against Clem’s magic. He’s not a lot of help, although he does offer her the remaining supply of the Powder of Ibn Ghazi that he, Morgan, and Rice used against the Dunwich Horror. Based on her reading and experience, Whateley suspects that Alfie was the result of a (failed) attempt to create another Son of Yog-Sothoth, and that the cultists can’t try again while Alfie is alive. Which probably means that they’re planning to kidnap and sacrifice him as part of the ritual. She sums up her theory to Jackson, telling him “We’ve got to keep Alfie alive and out of Clem’s hands.” If her theory is right, the cultists are on a timetable and need to complete their ritual within the next week, meaning they’ll probably try to take Alfie as soon as possible.

A quickly-assembled team (Whateley brings Drs. Freeborn and Ashley, Jackson brings Officer Graves and two other uniformed patrolmen) returns to the carnival grounds and sets up watch.

While they’re waiting, Dr. Whateley sees Claudia Brazda, whom she recognizes from her picture, coming out of the fortune teller’s tent. She greets her and tells her, “I have an old picture of yours.” She describes it, and Claudia confirms that it’s from an early modelling portfolio, doesn’t know who would still have it. Maybe if she knew more about where Dr. Whateley got the photo? “It was … in with some papers that were given to the library at Miskatonic.” When Dr. Whateley tells her the face was cut out, she’s a bit taken aback. “Isn’t that what crazy people do, before they kill somebody? I mean, you know, when it turns out they were obsessed with somebody and they’ve got a room full of their pictures with the face scribbled over, or the eyes cut out, that kind of thing?” Dr. Whateley assures her that she’s in no danger as far as they know, and happens to spot a familiar charm on her bracelet — the little tin sun-face that was also attached to the first of the Armitage documents. Claudia doesn’t remember exactly where she got it, but it’s just some cheap costume jewelry that she picked up along the carnival route at some point.

Later, a thick fog rolls in to the carnival grounds, and somehow five men armed with shotguns step out from behind it. Jackson pulls his revolver, yells “Police! Drop your weapons!” and then fires at one of them. (As he did so, his player noted that strict adherence to police procedure would have required him to at least give them a few seconds to comply with his order.) A brief shootout ensues and the cultists are quickly dispatched. They’re soon taken into custody (and to the hospital, give that they’ve all been shot).

Dr. Whateley speaks to Alfie one more time while Jackson directs the police activity. She tells him that Clem and his clan are going to jail and shouldn’t bother him for a long time. He’s still upset and frightened over what happened with Vladimir and tells her, “The Other One wants to come out and I think he gets stronger every time he does.” She infers that the “Other One” is his more monstrous form, with the teeth and claws, and wonders whether an alienist like Dr. Gleford might be able to help Alfie control his darker half.

If You Go Into the Woods Tonight ...
In which sinister plans are thwarted, for now

Thursday, October 17, 1935

Celestine Whateley does some research to see if there are any legends about mysterious animal attacks like the one on Vladimir Krotka. She doesn’t find any folklore that matches the particulars of this case, but she does find a series of newspapers reports on a series of similar attacks back in the spring of 1932 in Stanhope, a little mill town in western Massachusetts. Over a period of three weeks, a local farmer named Amos Spaulding, a pair of hobos (two separate attacks on separate nights), and a traveling salesman were killed along the Old Farm Road, an isolated, seldom-used road that runs past the Spaulding farm. A posse was organized to patrol the area at night, and after the attacks stopped, the general conclusion was that the animal responsible had moved on or been frightened away. The local papers seem to allude to stories or rumors about the Spaulding family, but in a vague “everybody knows what we’re talking about” kind of way.

Harold Shear reports on his analysis of the black substance found at the site of the attack. It’s very similar to the earlier sample that he analyzed, the blood stains from the first of the Armitage documents. Which is to say that it’s a blood-like substance that isn’t any specific type of blood he can test for.

That evening, Thomas Jackson, Officer Graves, and Dr. Whateley stake out the woods near where the attack happened. Hearing something moving, Jackson stealthily moves in closer and hears a small group of people walking in the woods. He follows them at a distance until they stop at the edge of the woods, where (he estimates) they have a clear view of the carnival site. Creeping closer, he manages to overhear a scrap of conversation:

“… don’t like all this sneakin’ around. He’s our kin, why’nt we just go in and take him?”

“Tain’t that simple, is it? There’s those as is opposin’ us, and they’ve got resources o’ their own. Clem’s gone down to see where things lay an’ I reckon he’ll know what to do better’n you or me.”

Getting closer, he can see that there are six men, carrying shotguns and rifles. About that time, he sees a man approaching from the carnival grounds. Someone in the woods signals him with a flashlight and he makes his way to where they’re hiding. Again, Jackson can overhear some of what he says: “That man ain’t gonna listen to reason, boys, so we got to go and take what’s ours.”

Sensing that no good can come of this, Jackson yells out, “Arkham Police! Freeze!” At which point the group in the woods immediately scatter in different directions, running blindly through the moonlit woods. Officer Graves catches one, and Dr. Whateley manages to trip another as he runs past her, but the rest — including “Clem,” the apparent ringleader — escape.

Back at the station, the two prisoners identify themselves as Jim Spaulding and Enoch Pivar. Interrogated separately, they give similar accounts of themselves. They’ve come from Stanhope with their uncle Clement Pivar to “rescue” their cousin Alfie from the Drake Brothers. As Jim puts it, “Them circus folk kidnaped Alfie and we was gonna rescue him.”

Jackson books the two of them for lying in wait, attempted assault, attempted kidnaping, and resisting arrest.

Let's all drink to the death of a ... strongman
In which a troubling conclusion is studiously not leapt to

Celestine Whateley gets a reply to the letter she sent to the Garrett Brothers photography studio a week or so back. They’ve identified the picture as part of a portfolio that was commissioned in 1924 by a young actress named Claudia Brazda. They don’t have a current address for Miss Brazda, and they’re fairly certain that she’s not acting on the New York stage under that name. They also enclose a complete print of the damaged photo in question, which shows an attractive woman of about 20, with dark hair and eyes, probably of Central European descent.

Dr. Whateley also consults an atlas to look for nearby places called Red Hollow, hoping to get a line on the “Red Hollow Case” mentioned in the latest document. She finds three things with “Red Hollow” in their name: a town in southern New Hampshire, a small valley outside Worcester, Mass, and a Red Hollow Road in rural Maine. Red Hollow, New Hampshire, seems the most likely location for an Inquiry investigation, given that it’s in the Miskatonic Valley and no more than ten miles (as the crow flies) from Dunwich.

Thomas Jackson is at the carnival when a large electrical generator “accidentally” falls off a flatbed truck, badly injuring roustabout Chad Mitchell. After sending a uniformed officer to radio for an ambulance, Jackson helps lift the machine off Mitchell’s leg. He confirms his suspicion that this is the “Mitch” who had a fight with Vladimir Krotka two nights before. Checking the back of the truck, he sees that a bolt has been loosened and bent, in such a way that a shove from a very strong man could topple the generator from its platform. He pulls a partial set of prints from the bolt, and with the uniformed officers in tow, finds Vladimir and “persuades” him to cooperate by being fingerprinted. He finds one of the O’Fearna brothers, warns him to make sure Letty, he, and his brothers stay away from Vladimir, and takes the prints into town to the police lab.

About 2:30 the next morning, Jackson gets a call from the night desk — Vladimir Krotka has been brought to the morgue, apparently mauled by a wild animal of some kind, probably a bear. There’s not much for Jackson to do at this point, other than tell the sergeant to make sure that Ephraim Sprague does the autopsy himself.

Later that day, Jackson gets the report from Sprague: Vladimir was definitely killed by an animal of some kind. The claw and bite marks are organic and irregular, not made by any sort of weapon or tool. He doesn’t know what type of animal it was, but from his measurements of the wounds it’s likely the size of a small bear or a large mountain lion. The animal may have an injured paw, as the claw marks are mostly on one side of the body. This puts the investigators in mind of Alfie Pivar’s withered arm, but of course Alfie doesn’t have two-inch claws on his other hand.

Jackson and Whateley go to where the body was found. They don’t see any animal tracks, although there are plenty of human footprints. Trampled undergrowth, broken branches and a considerable amount of blood point to a protracted struggle. Dr. Whateley catches an odd smell that reminds her of old Wizard Whateley’s barn. Jackson finds a smear of black ichor on a broken branch and collects a sample for analysis.

Jackson goes on to question witnesses at the carnival. Rex Drake gives him the basic story. He and his brother were worried that Vladimir might try to run away or possibly attempt some kind of revenge agent the O’Fearnas, so they arranged a schedule with the night watchman where the three of them would periodically stop by Vladimir’s tent and make sure he was inside. Shortly after midnight, Rex noticed the tent was empty and collected the watchman and a couple of roustabouts for a quick search. They heard noises in the woods, what sounded like a man fighting some kind of animal, and shortly found Vladimir lying bleeding on the forest floor. Drake sent one of the men to the nearest farmhouse to phone for an ambulance and tried to administer first aid, but it was too late. Other witnesses confirm Drake’s story.

They check on Alfie, who looks just as they saw him last. He shows no signs of injury, although they can’t be certain that his strange skin would show bruises. He tells them he was asleep during the attack.

Back in Arkham, Jackson assigns a patrol car to the carnival area overnight. Noticing that the ichor sample has decayed rapidly, he quickly takes what’s left to Harold Shear in the chemistry department.

The Third Document

The Inquiry members pore over the latest pages.

One striking feature is the maddeningly vague account of the strange death of an (unnamed) investigator, presumably one of the Inquiry members, in a warehouse somewhere. A couple of names are mentioned, as is the fact that the investigator in question had rented a room near the warehouse, leading to the conclusion that it’s not in Arkham or anywhere close. The investigators make a note of the names mentioned and Dr Freeborn says, “Remember: nobody goes into a warehouse alone.”

Another remarkable incident is the appearance of a strange Yeti-like creature in the Miskatonic Library. The notes include references to a couple of volumes in the library: L. A. Waddell’s Among the Himalayas (1899) and N.A. Tombazi’s Account of a Photographic Expedition to the Southern Glaciers of Kangchenjunga in the Sikkim Himalaya (1926).

More mundane references include the American Preservation League and the “late fortune teller and embezzler” Wolf-Dietrich Gudzuhn. For the former, a quick trip to the student union turns up a few fliers from the odd isolationist group which give a mailing address in Chamberlain, New York. For the latter, Dr Whateley calls up her contact Richard Kirwan who knows a little about Gudzuhn. “He’s down your way. Rents a supposedly haunted house in Kingsport and gives seances for the millionaire’s wives.”

Thomas Jackson pays another visit to the carnival. He talks to one of the Drake brothers and learns that Vladimir’s last name is Krotka. Jackson asks about Sergei Garkalin and Drake tells him that another travelling show has a strongman called “Garkalin the Great.” He doesn’t know Garkalin’s first name, nor does he recall the exact name of the other carnival. He knows it’s run by a guy named Morelli, and thinks it’s just Morelli’s Travelling Carnival or something like that. He’s pretty sure the Morelli show is in upstate New York right now.

Later, Jackson overhears a couple of roustabouts describing a fight between Vladimir and another carnival worker called Mitch. Mitch apparently found out about the incident with Letty O’Fearna and called Vladimir out. “Now, if Vladimir had been able to get hold of ’im, Mitch woulda been in trouble. But he was in the service and knows how to fight. A couple kicks to the knee anna shot on the back of the head and Vladimir went down hard.” His friend thinks that might not have been too smart of Mitch. “Y’know, I’ve known some bullies that would just fold right up if somebody stood up to ‘em and gave ’em a thrashing like that, but I don’t think Vladimir’s one o’ them. I think ol’ Mitch better keep his eyes peeled.” Jackson makes a note to be sure to keep an obvious police presence at the carnival, with a couple of uniformed officers on patrol at all times.

The Half-Human Boy
In which strange things are afoot at the carnival

The Red Box having been secured once again in the Miskatonic University vault, the investigators turn their attention to other intriguing hints from the Armitage Files.

Alton Throckmorton reviews his compiled notes from interviews with N.E.L.A.A. members and cross-references them with some obscure early astronomical texts. He concludes that they’re observing (but not publishing) the location of the Teardrop Nebula, a distant and very faint “star” that’s sometimes considered part of a constellation known as Phasmus (the Ghost).

Celestine Whateley starts work on tracking down the source of the woman’s photograph enclosed in the first of the mysterious documents. From a partial name and phone number, she’s able to deduce that the picture was taken at Garret Bros. Photography in Manhattan. She makes a photostatic copy of the print and writes to the studio asking for any information they can share.

In the course of the previous investigation, they came across some flyers for the Drake Brothers Carnival, coming to Arkham next week (i.e. October 12-20, 1935). Some brief research ensues. Thomas Jackson checks with his contacts in the state police to see if there are any serious complaints against the carnival. There’s the usual drunkeness, fighting, people getting ripped off by the rigged midway games, that kind of thing, but nothing the state police would take an interest in. Dr Whateley’s show business relatives know a little about the Drake brothers. Twins Jasper and Rex Drake had a magic act around the turn of the century and retired from performing in the mid-20s. They tried their hand at producing, but lost everything in the crash. A few years ago they bought up the remains of a traveling carnival.

Sunday, the 13th of October, arrives and Jackson, Throckmorton, and Whateley visit the carnival. It’s obviously cheap and run-down, but doesn’t seem sleazy or dangerous. The document mentions a strongman and a freak tent, so they seek out those attractions. The strongman is billed as Vladimir the Giant, which seems to match one of the names in the document. His act is fairly standard, but quite impressive.

The freak tent is next, and it’s mostly the usual stuff. There’s a “wild man,” an “India rubber man,” and so forth. But the one introduced as “Alfie, the Half-Human Boy” is different. He’s just under six feet tall, or would be if his spine weren’t twisted so that he walks in a constant stoop. He’s bald, with strangely smooth skin and too-wide, staring eyes. The fingers of his left hand are fused into a curved, three-fingered claw, while his right arm is withered and twisted, the hand held against his chest in a permanent loose fist. At first glance, he reminds the investigators of the strange fish-like men who attacked them at Falcon’s Point, but on second glance the resemblance is mostly in the eyes. “Alfie” isn’t scaly, doesn’t have obvious gills, and while he does have a strange, unpleasant odor, it’s more earthy and musty than fishy.

The investigators buttonhole the barker, Kent Murdoch, after the show and ask about Alfie. Murdoch doesn’t know much. In response to their questions, he tells them that Alfie’s probably about 16 years old, can read and write “some,” and doesn’t talk about where he was before he came to the carnival. He agrees to let them talk to Alfie after the last show.

Late that evening, Murdoch shows them around to the “backstage” area where the “freaks” are having dinner. The “wild man” is working a crossword puzzle and the “India rubber man” has the sports page and is reading the baseball scores to Alfie. When they speak to him, he’s very shy and polite. His voice is very low, and he speaks with a strange accent, as though his speech organs are also affected by whatever birth defect or condition he suffers from.

In the course of their questioning, Dr Whateley attempts to learn about Alfie’s background by saying that she thinks she’s seen him before, but not in a carnival, maybe a few years ago. He’s visibly panicked by this and seems genuinely afraid of her until she manages to reassure him that she didn’t mean it.

On their way out, they hear a woman’s scream, followed by a crashing sound and a man’s deep-throated laughter. Running to investigate, Detective Jackson comes across one of the acrobats running from a wagon, crying and clutching at her torn dress. A couple of her male colleagues are struggling with Vladimir, who’s laughing and shoving them around as if it were all a game. Jackson identifies himself as a police officer and gets everybody to calm down. He gives his card to the girl, Letty O’Fearna. Her brothers assure him that it was just a misunderstanding and that there are no hard feelings. Jackson’s not so sure, but there’s not much he can do at this point other than keep his eyes and ears open.

On Monday morning, Dr Armitage calls an Inquiry meeting to announce the appearance of two and a half more pages of mysterious notes. These appeared while he was sleeping and Warren Rice, who was meant to be monitoring him, was unconscious following a mysterious attack of vertigo. Rice thinks he was out for about 20 minutes, but admits that he only looked at the bedside clock and didn’t think to verify the time. He’s fairly certain that Armitage was asleep when he came to, and once he saw the pages he checked that the ink was dry and that there were no ink stains on Armitage’s hands or the sleeves of his pajamas. The pages are handed over to Dr Whateley and another round of speculation as to their provenance begins.

Confrontation at Falcon's Point
In which, no, it can't

Celestine Whateley continues her researches on the Ponape Scriptures and is slightly relieved to conclude that the “Kiss of Dagon” can only be used against apostate Dagon cultists and not, say, meddling investigators or an entire innocent city.

Meanwhile, she and Thomas Jackson continue to shadow Austin Kittrell and Oliver Gardiner, respectively, in part to make it look like they don’t know where the Red Box is, and in part to see if Kittrell has discovered that it’s gone and how he and Gardiner react to this news. Neither man does anything suspicious in the few hours they’re under surveillance, although Kittrell does leave his hotel for his yacht, which is gone the next day. The harbor master says the boat was bound for Newport, Rhode Island.

Later, Detective Jackson gets an irate phone call from Horace “Diamond” Walsh, demanding to know if it was Jackson who took the Red Box from Kittrell’s hotel suite. It turns out that Kittrell has kidnaped Zora Smallidge and wants the box in exchange for her safe return. The rendezvous is scheduled for midnight on a small private dock near Falcon’s Point. (Falcon’s Point, Whateley notices glumly, is about halfway between Dixon and Innsmouth.)

With only a few hours to plan, Whateley and Jackson rig up a rough facsimile box to use as a decoy, and also take the precaution of jamming the latch on the real box so that it can’t be easily opened. They recruit Ferdinand Ashley and Tyler M. Freeborn to accompany them and meet with Walsh and two of his henchmen on the road to Falcon’s Point. As they make their way to the shore, Walsh explains the nature of the original deal. It seems that old Elihu Smallidge needed to get away from his “mistake,” whatever that was, and thought he could use the Red Box as a bargaining chip. He gave the box to Walsh to sell to Kittrell, in exchange for which Kittrell was supposed to convince Gardiner to let Walsh join the Kingsport Yacht Club. Walsh really did put Smallidge on that bus, but it was heading to “Nebraska or Iowa or some such place.”

The group approaches the dock just before midnight and are suddenly bathed in the glow of a pair of large electric lights from the deck of Kittrell’s yacht. Kittrell appears at the head of a gangplank, with a knife at Zora’s throat. A tense negotiation ensues as to the exact sequence of handing over the box, releasing Zora, and everybody going their separate ways. As Walsh approaches the foot of the gangplank with the decoy box, Kittrell begins monologuing. “I want you to understand that I’m not doing this out of malice, or for my own aggrandizement. Terrible forces have been set in motion and I find myself with no choice. Old Smallidge’s failure led to this. I wish there were some other way, believe me.” And with that, he draws back the knife as if to cut Zora’s throat.

Zora seizes the opportunity and sinks her teeth into Kittrell’s other arm. In his pain, he releases her and drops the knife. A brief exchange of gunfire ensues, between the crew on Kittrell’s yacht and the unlikely alliance of policemen, academics, and gangsters on the pier. Kittrell is injured and his crew cast off their lines in preparation to sail away.

At the same time, Zora, who’d been fleeing down the dock, screams as two hulking manlike shapes clamber out of the water and block her path. These brutish, half-human fish men attack the group and are quickly dispatched by dint of superior numbers. The yacht has begun sailing away, and Jackson takes a running leap and lands on the deck, where he wrestles briefly with the wounded Kittrell, grabs him, and attempts to leap back to the pier. Unfortunately, he has to release his grip on Kittrell to catch the edge of the pier and Kittrell falls into the water. As Jackson is helped up, Dr. Whateley sees something big, dark, and fast moving just under the surface of the water. She attempts to rescue Kittrell, but her efforts fail and he’s dragged beneath the water with a last scream followed by a sickening wet crunching sound.

It Can't Be That Easy, Can It?
In which investigators are lied to and a package is picked up

Thomas Jackson interviews Zora Smallidge at her Kingsport apartment. She’s evasive, but confronted with the evidence that her grandfather had her address, she admits that he visited her there two nights ago. She thought he was running away from Dixon and trying to get rid of something.

Jackson then collects Celestine Whateley and the two of them visit Horace “Diamond” Walsh at his office. (On reading Jackson’s card: “Arkham, huh? I ain’t been to Arkham since — I’ve never been to Arkham.”) He tells them that he gave Smallidge some money and put him on a bus to New York City, but they’re pretty sure he’s lying. Whateley suggests that Smallidge left something with Walsh before he left. Walsh tells them he wouldn’t hold anything dangerous, despite his familial feelings for the old man. He also says that Smallidge said something about making a “horrible mistake.” Again, they think he’s not being completely truthful with them.

Dr. Whateley calls on some of her contacts in the Occultist community and learns that Austin Kittrell has been a fixture at auctions and estate sales, buying all sorts of occult, religious and funerary objects. He’s either a very eclectic collector or not a very discriminating one. He was a member of the now-defunct Providence Spritist and Psychic Society, but Whateley considers that a dead end. The group was part of the 1920s spiritualism fad and was never very serious. More of a secret drinking club, really.

Jackson and Whateley talk to Kittrell, who (lies to them and) says he never met Smallidge and doesn’t have anything from him.

They stake out his hotel and tail him to a local restaurant. Whateley sits in the bar to see who he meets while Jackson doubles back to search his hotel suite. Sneaking in and picking the lock, he finds some notes on upcoming auctions and book sales. There’s a wall safe in the suite and he picks that lock as well (it locks with a key rather than a combination) and finds an object wrapped in a bath towel. It’s a red box, roughly 14 inches by 10 inches by 2 inches, made of lacquered wood ornately carved with aquatic themes — lots of tentacles. He rewraps it, relocks the safe, stashes the box in the trunk of his car and returns to the restaurant.

There, Whateley has seen that Kittrell’s dinner companion is Oliver Gardiner. Jackson tells her he thinks he’s found the Red Box and they leave immediately for Arkham, where they arrange to have the box securely crated and stored in the Archaeology Department’s vault. They decide to pretend to keep looking for the box, to divert suspicion from themselves once Kittrell notices that it’s missing.

Diamonds of Kingsport
In which Jackson does some good old-fashioned detective work

After the tragedy in Dixon and subsequent revelations from Lem Finlayson, Celestine Whateley goes looking for a copy of the Ponape Scripture, which proves fairly easy.

Dr Whateley: “Do we have a copy of the Ponape Scripture in the special collection?”
Dr Llanfer: “In fact, we published it. Miskatonic University Press, 1907.”

Skimming through it, she finds a story about a city or village in ancient Mu that turned away from the worship of Dagon. A prophet came to warn them of the error of their ways, but they turned him out. The prophet then “poured blood upon the waters” and visited the townsfolk with the “Kiss of Dagon” — which is to say, they all drowned.

Tuesday, October 2, 1935.

Hearing that “Diamond” Walsh and Zora Smallidge have been spotted at Walsh’s Kingsport club (“Diamonds of Kingsport”), Dr. Whateley and Thomas Jackson decide to have dinner there and see if they show up. Sure enough, Walsh and Zora are seated at a very visible table, having dinner and chatting with members of Kingsport society who stop by.

When Walsh is called away by the maitre-d’, Jackson shadows him while Whateley has a brief chat with Zora, offering her condolences about the tragedy in Dixon. Zora seems genuinely shocked by what happened, although Whateley isn’t surprised that she doesn’t seem to be exactly grief-stricken over a town that she left when she was 16. She does seem concerned about her grandfather (Elihu), but again in a kind of detached way.

Meanwhile, Jackson follows Walsh into a back hallway and a door marked “Office.” His attempt to linger outside and eavesdrop is foiled by the appearance of a waiter who directs him to the men’s room. Later he sees Austin Kittrell leave the office and decides to follow him. Kittrell heads back out into the restaurant and out the front door where he steps into the only cab at the taxi stand.

The next day, armed with photos of Kittrell and Smallidge, Jackson returns to Kingsport and canvasses the local hotels. He learns that Kittrell has a suite at the upscale Harbor Place Hotel for the week. Moving to the other end of the scale, he finds the five-cent tenement where Smallidge stayed a couple of nights ago. Searching the room he finds a discarded bus schedule with an address scribbled on it — checking the city directory reveals that it’s Zora’s apartment (owned by Diamond Walsh).

In which small-town life is not all it's cracked up to be

Celestine Whateley and Thomas Jackson decide a trip to Dixon is in order, taking Doctors Ashley and Freeborn along. They find a tiny fishing village of no more than two dozen houses, a tavern/general store and a small chapel, all surrounding a dilapidated wooden dock where a couple of small fishing boats are tied up. A hand-written sign on the door say that the tavern is “Closed Until Further Notice.”

Entering the tavern, the investigators see signs of a recent brawl: broken glass, overturned tables, small amounts of blood and vomit. They check the back and find three dead bodies — presumably the owners or staff, judging by their clothing. It’s not obvious how they died, but Detective Jackson estimates they’ve been dead more than two days and less than a week. The general store side of the business seems to have been looted. The cash register lies smashed on the floor and the shelves have been stripped of canned and boxed food.

Next they investigate the chapel, the cleanest and most well-maintained building in town. Standing outside, Dr Freeborn guesses that it’s been converted from its original Episcopalian roots, pointing out where a cross has been removed from over the door. Inside, they find a single room with wooden pews that would seat about 50. A lectern and altar table stand at the far end, under a large wooden eye where a cross would normally hang. Dr Whateley recognizes this as the Eye of Dagon, the symbol of the Esoteric Order of Dagon, the same cult that ruled the neighboring town of Innsmouth before the federal raid in 1928. The lectern apparently once held a book, judging by the thin broken chain. They also spot a velvet-lined shelf on the back side of the altar table, but there’s no sign of what was kept there.

The investigator then go house to house, finding more bodies in similar condition to those in the tavern. After ascertaining that there are no survivors, they make their way to the nearest telephone (a few miles away in Ipswich), where Jackson reports the discovery to the sheriff’s department. Statements are taken, and the bodies removed to the hospital in Ipswich for autopsies. All told, there are 34 bodies. Sheriffs deputies estimate the population of the town between 50 and 60.

Prelimiary autopsy results seem to show that the victims all drowned, despite being found on dry land with no sign of anything they might have drowned in. There is salt water in their lungs. This detail is kept out of any official statements, which instead say only that the deaths are unexplained at this time.

The next day, Coast Guard patrols turn up a couple of the missing fishing boats, including the Silver Star, registereed to Elihu Smallidge. While the other boat is abandoned, the Silver Star’s crew are all aboard, dead, with their throats cut. Elihu himself does not appear to be among them. At least one boat and half a dozen men remain unaccounted for.

Whateley and Jackson head to Kingsport to have another chat with Lem Finlayson, to see if he can explain why he told her that Dixon “ain’t there no more.” He tries to pass that off as a sailor’s expression, and to say that the whole story of the Cordelia was “just a yarn,” but she’s not buying it. After she mentions the Eye of Dagon, he gets scared and tells her to not even talk about such things, much less go poking around. After she makes it clear that she’s not going to let it go, he fills her in on what little he knows.

In summary: Elihu Smallidge was the head of the Esoteric Order of Dagon in Dixon. At least one other branch exists in the area, though not in Innsmouth. To understand what happened in Dixon, “you’ll need to find out where Old Smallidge is and what he’s done with the Red Box.” “Not a man alive” knows what’s in the Red Box. “If you recognized the Eye of Dagon, then you’ll know that they’d be reading from the Ponape Scripture.” Finally, when asked how he knows all this information given that he’s clearly not a cultist himself, he says, “Well, ask yourself this. Where does Old Lem spend his time, keeping his eyes and ears open and his mouth shut?”

After he leaves, Dr Whateley sighs. “Great. I’ve got cultists on both sides of my family.”

Tales of the Sea
in which Whateley hears a fish story and things get hot for Diamond Walsh

Not finding a Zora Smallidge in any police or other public records he has access to, Jackson enlists Dr. Whateley’s help. Whateley looks up “Smallidge” in A Survey of Family Names in Rhode Island, Eastern Massachusetts, and Southern New Hampshire (Miskatonic University Press, 1924) and finds a reference to an Elihu Smallidge in the tiny fishing village of Dixon, Massachusetts. Jackson contacts the Essex County Sheriff’s office and talks to the deputy in that area. He confirms that Elihu has a granddaughter named Zora who’s probably 22 or 23 years old and has been living in Boston for at least a couple of years.

Dr. Whateley meets with Samuel Hepburn and gets a few old family stories. He recommends that she speak to the Yacht Club’s barman, Lem Finlayson. Finlayson tells her his story of the penultimate voyage of the SS Cordelia (incidentally mentioning that Dixon “ain’t there no more.”)

She then meets with Oliver Gardiner at his company office. She mentions talking to Lem and Oliver wants to know what Lem told her. She relates the Cordelia story. Gardiner is dismissive but also seems to want to make sure she doesn’t think there’s anything to it. She asks if any Gardiner ships ever had hostile run-ins with the Marshes. He says they didn’t, mainly because they operated in different areas. He seems bothered by her questions.

On her way out, she overhears a man (whom she suspects – and later confirms – is “Diamond” Walsh) arguing with Gardiner’s secretary. “It’s a Yacht Club. I got a yacht, ain’t I? So what’s the problem?” After getting back to Arkham she telephones Gardiner to warn him about Walsh. He appreciates her concern and tells her that the club knows who Walsh is.

Dr Throckmorton has been through the New England League of Amateur Astronomers newsletters he picked up and thinks he’s noticed a strange pattern in the logs of the members’ observations. He’s not sure what it means, but it seems as though the members are going to some rather remote and sometimes nearly inaccessible places only to record observations that could have been made just about anywhere. Dr. Whateley wonders if the coordinates might be coded messages, and Throkmorton agrees that they should find someone with expertise in cryptography to take a look. He’s also interested in seeing if the next issue of the newsletter mentions the strange atmospheric conditions associated with the Billington’s Wood case. In the meantime, he’s planning to drop in on a few of the NELAA members as they make their nighty observations and see what he can find out.

Noting the reference in the second document to the Circle Rite Lodge, they turn to Warren Rice (“I guess I’m still a Mason, officially”) for background. He tells them what he knows and agrees to discreetly inquire about the membership. On a related topic, they send a couple of grad students to plow through local newspapers, city directories, and so forth to compile a list of Helping Hands members. The intent is not to investigate all these people, but to have a handy list for finding connections between names that come up during other avenues of investigation.

Dr Gleford is able to give them more information on the Miskatonic Valley Sanatorium. Even though they’ve officially said they’ll be ready to take patients “before the first of the year” it seems that they’re ahead of schedule and will probably open quite a bit sooner than that. Construction of the facilities is complete and they’ve engaged almost all of the medical and clerical staff they’ll need.

Finally, on the morning of the 25th (a Wednesday), Jackson gets a call from Andy Lane. “Diamond” Walsh’s Boston home has burned down in the early hours of the morning, but due to a last-minute change of plans nobody was in the house. Rumor has it that Teddy Moore, Walsh’s right-hand man, has been angling to take over Walsh’s operation, and Lane thinks Moore’s the kind of guy who’d think it was smart to use an apparently accidental house fire as opposed to just shooting a guy. Moore seems to have skipped out of Boston in a hurry, possibly around the time it became known that nobody was hurt in the fire.


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