The Armitage Files

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.



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