The Armitage Files

Showdown

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.

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