Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Wednesday, May 12th 9 AM
Mavis pops in. “Do you know where Vito is?”
“Um, no,” he says. “I’m not sure what’s up with Vito. I’m sure its just fine though. He’s probably working for the military again.”
“O-kay,” the secretary says, unsure how to take that.
Robert meanwhile gets to work, writing up his report on the cheating husband case.
Shaw enters the office, still flush from her morning workout. She heads for her office.
Mavis catches up with her. “There was a call earlier today from a Mrs. Peterson, she was interested in hiring us.”
“Great,” she says. “Who is she?”
Mavis hands over the contact information. It is Lisa Peterson, from Keystone Pharmaceuticals. “Uh…thanks.”
Mavis continues, “Oh, Vito hasn’t come in today. Is he on some case? I didn’t see anything on the schedule.”
“No,” Shaw says distracted. “He doesn’t have any reason to be on fieldwork right now.”
“I’ll give him a call then.”
Shaw sets the contact info on her desk and pokes her head into the bullpen. “Hey I’m about to contact Keystone Pharma for a job. You might want to upgrade our office security.”
With Robert mulling over that, she picks up the phone and calls the executive.
Mrs. Peterson’s gentle voice comes over the line. “Hello.”
“Miss Peterson, this is Lillian Shaw. I was told you might have a need for some private security work.”
“Its more a missing person case,” the executive explains.
“I see.” Shaw mulls this over.
“I think this might be mutually beneficial to us. It involves a celebrity that went missing some time ago. Perhaps you’ve heard of him: Ambrose Grant.”
Shaw feigns ignorance. “That’s the magician who disappeared, like really?”
“Yes,” she replies seriously. “We’d like to hire you to find him for us.”
“What makes you think he’s still alive? Or are we looking for his remains?”
“We have reason to believe he’s still alive. I’d rather not talk about why over the phone. Could we meet someplace?”
“Are you implying my office is not secure?” Shaw says indignantly.
“There are many interested parties,” Lisa intimates.
“Well we could meet at that cafe we met at last time,” Shaw suggests.
“Certainly. I’ll make there is a reservation there. For this afternoon perhaps?”
Lisa tells her when to meet. “Thank you I look forward to seeing you.”
After hanging up, Shaw draws up a standard contract for this kind of work though she increases their rates by fifty percent. They will pay for that stolen computer.
As she heads out to her meeting, she asks Mavis, “Did you ever hear from Vito?”
“No,” she says worried. “I called his house there was no answer. I left a message. I tried his house number and cell.”
Shaw looks into the bullpen but all of her other detectives are out working. She thinks to herself, ‘I hope he didn’t go after Dr. Warden alone.’
Capitol Hill, 10 AM
“I’m glad you could make it,” Lisa says as Shaw sits. “I think we may have gotten off on the wrong foot last time. I hope that our dealings here can be a bit more trusting.”
“A rare commodity,” Shaw says.
“Yes.” Lisa pulls a file folder out of her briefcase. She slides the file over. “Take this as a peace offering. It should help in the investigation.”
As Shaw opens it, Lisa adds, “before you look over that, please know this should remain confidential.”
She nods and looks over the file. Written for the Chieron Group, it details a potential asset: Ambrose Grant. The comprehensive report covers everything about his life, including details on his CIA activities. These seem to have been reconstructed from stolen government papers and extensive independent investigation. Most of the research appears to have been completed in the mid 80s.
The tale they tell is strange but fits with what they already know. Ambrose was a spy and an assassin for the CIA, using his psychic powers at their direction while stationed in Eastern Europe. After leaving the CIa, he became a flamboyant magician. Chieron had their eyes on him, hoping to learn more about his abilities. Shaw notes that the wording is very similar to that used in the report by Frank’s friend, Rajiv.
The company had Ambrose under close surveillance. When Ambrose had his accident, the Chieron Group snatched him from Harborview Medical Center. Under the Pleseus Guild they moved him to the Hillcrest Mental Health Center. Ambrose’s condition was stable but he was totally and permanent paralyzed. His brain waves however indicated he was conscious. However 3 weeks into their study, mysterious men, possibly acting under his orders, broke into the Hillcrest center and removed him. A pursuit was launched but nothing was found.
Shaw finds no clues from where the second transfer form originated from the report. The Chieron Group seems ignorant of it. She looks up at Mrs. Peterson. “So why the sudden interest in this man? This was over 20 years ago.”
“Well it had come to our attention that others were looking for Ambrose,” she says. “First there was his ex-wife and more recently a friend of yours. Neither came to a good end. There must be something to find.”
Shaw turns back to the report. The final part deals with the Ambrose’s theft or escape. There are pictures of six blurry intruders in dark suits. The report confirms they were not working for the government. The blurry effect seems to be either supernatural or technological in origin. There was no sign of approach but they escaped on foot.
“I assume the intruders don’t match anything in your records,” Shaw states.
“There have been a number of theories put forward as to the type of the beings involved.” Peterson slides over a second folder. “This our best theory.”
The folder contains several files. It begins with a more recent investigation of Millenial Housing, a rental company that was founded in the 1970s by Ambrose Grant. The people living the apartment complex owned by the company experience a strange forgetfulness. In the course of their investigation they discovered the House and the Sandmen, referred to as Memnovores here. The company tried to study them but it was too dangerous as agents would vanish, be replaced by dopllegangers or Tulpas, or go insane. So they hired the Ave Rats Cell.
The second file discusses the two supernatural creatures related to the house and the apartment complex next door. The material on the Sandmen, or Memnovores, is pretty familiar from Dr. Ilyes reports. It seems they subsist on memories. If they drain enough memories they can turn another person into one of them. Though they exist elsewhere they are much more common and organized in Seattle.
As for the Doppleganger, Chieron calls them Tulpas or Thought Projection Forms after the Tibetan myth. The Tulpas are almost as much of a mystery to Cheiron as to the investigators. They lack a proper biology and utterly disintegrate when killed. They photograph poorly and appear in mirrors as blurs. This suspected to be an effect of negative L-field dissonance by the corporate scientists. Exposure to sensitives, such as psychics, causes erratic changes. Beings of this sort turn up now and again in the world but never in such numbers and never with a larger agenda.
Shaw slides her contract over to Peterson. She signs it. “There will be a sizable bonus if you bring Ambrose back to us.”
As Shaw leaves she gets a text from Robert: ‘Suspect was not cheating on his wife. The suspicious activity was he was planning a party for her. Very sweet. Case closed, heading back to office now.’
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Noon
Robert Mill gets back to the office. Those two hours of stakeout didn’t turn out like normal. Maybe the world isn’t so bad.
Turning his computer screen back on, he sees two new files on his computer desktop: Warden.jpeg and address.txt. The jpeg shows a hospital hallway, probably Harborview, with a blurry image of a doctor in the center. Oddly the rest of the picture is clear even the nurse at the edge. The txt file has an address in Central District for Dr. Adam Warden.
Thinking of Infinity, Robert mutters, “always the needless mystery with this guy.”
He forwards the files to the others: ‘Possible location on Dr. Warden. Advise if we want to pursue.’
He gets a text back from Shaw: ‘Where did you get this information?’
‘Our good friend’ he sends back.
Somewhere in the darkness, Vito’s phone lies on a dank floor. It buzzes then dies.
Bainbridge Island, Washington, 4PM
Shaw walks up to Vito‘s house. The sun is shining and the sky is clear for a change. She rings the bell but there is no answer. Checking around back she sees his boat is gone. She heads over to his mailbox. Yesterday’s mail is gone. So he came home last night then left.
She smells a barbecue going on next door. She approaches the man cooking and says, “hey.”
“Hey,” he says in reply.
“Nice day,” she says.
“Don’t get too many of these.” The man laughs as she continues. “You may have seen me around. I work with Vito.”
“Oh right, right,” he says. “That guy.”
“I was actually wonder if you’d seen him. He didn’t come into work today.’
“Nah,” the man says keeping his attention on the grill. “I haven’t seen him all day.”
“His boat was gone in the morning?” she asks.
“Yeah, I think so.” The man scratches his head.
“Is there any local busy body around here who might have seen something?” she inquires.
He scowls. “Ah, yeah there’s Winny. She lives a few houses down.”
“Thanks. If you hear anything here.” She hands him her card. “Hopefully its just that his cell phone died. Still it is a little strange, he’s pretty good about calling in.”
Shaw heads down the street where an old woman is tending flowers.
“Hey,” she says. “Oh that’s great I can never get things to grow like that.”
The woman warms to Shaw and unloads on the difficulties of weeding, dealing with neighborhood dogs, and the general irresponsibility of those around here.
“I hear you,” Shaw says. “Actually I work with someone who lives a couple houses down, Vito, you know him?”
“Yes,” Winifred says sourly.
“I came by looking for him,” Shaw explains. “He didn’t come into work today. So I wanted to make sure he wasn’t sick or something.”
“I don’t think he’s sick,” the old woman says. “He went out last night. Late.”
Shaw feigns sympathy. “Late? Oh man, he keeps all hours doesn’t he?”
“Yeah, I was trying to sleep and I hear his boat start up around 11,” Winny complains.
“And he hasn’t come back yet?”
Shaw sounds worried. “Did he seem okay? There weren’t other people with him or anything?”
“No I don’t think so.”
“Okay, maybe he forgot to charge his cell phone.”
“Some people.” Winny begins complaining about negligent workers.
Shaw lists for a while and then tells her, “enjoy the rest of the day.”
Downtown, 5 PM
Shaw is back in the city. She talks to her police contacts. With a little work she is able to track down Vito‘s last known location. He was by the entrance to the sewer, specifically where Terrance Smith had vanished. A security camera showed him in a raincoat wearing a miner’s helmet and a mysterious bulge under his coat (likely a shotgun to her trained eye).
She then heads home to sweep for bugs.
Shaw’s houseboat, Lake Union, 7 PM
As they walk in Robert sighs, “more after hours work.”
“Well we can bill this,” Shaw says, smiling.
“In fact I’m really hoping to run up some overtime. Though you might not be happy, doctor, with our current employer but you might want to know that they are basically running the Hillcrest Center anyway.”
“Whose is this?” Sorenson says confused.
“Keystone,” Shaw tells him. She fills them in on her meeting and hands them the files.
After looking them over, Robert asks, “do we have any indication that Ambrose is a bad guy?”
“He was an assassin for the CIA according to their records,” Shaw says. “Then again they are their records.”
“I agree that’s bad,” he admits.
“I had a conspiracy thought about that,” Sorenson says. “Maybe it wasn’t her that was trying to find him. Maybe it was one of these doppelgangers trying to find him.”
Shaw counters with, “well she died after he was hired and her remains didn’t disappear.”
Robert posits that Ambrose may still be paralyzed and psychically controlling these doppelgangers.
“I don’t believe their abilities are totally hocus pocus magic,” Sorenson says. “They work under some unknown scientific principles that we just haven’t uncovered yet.”
Conversation turns to Dr. Warden. As they examine the picture, Shaw says, “if he is one of these doppelgangers, then he has been there for at least 3 years.” She wants them to determine if he replaced a real person or is completely fabricated.
After that Shaw brings up something that is troubling her. “By the way, I think Vito went into the sewers last night and he hasn’t come back.”
“Oh god he went by himself?” Trevor exclaims.
“Pretty sure,” She says. she shows them the still from the security camera. “And his phone is not working.”
“Reception is pretty crappy underground,” Trevor mutters.
“We should go into the sewers to rescue him then,” Robert advises.
“Do we know where he went down there?” Sorenson asks.
“Yes,” Shaw says.
“Let’s hold on this Warden thing and look for Vito,” Robert opinions. “Presumably he’s dead or dying if he hasn’t come back. Or he’s captured.”
“Or he’s lost,” Sorenson says.
Shaw pulls a map of the tunnels beneath downtown. Erin’s earlier research was about to pay off. A brief discuss erupts over how dirty the storm drains will be.
Shaw tells them, “I’ll understand if you guys want to swing by your house and pick up some disposable clothes.”
“But its not going to smell as horrible though right?” Robert worries. “It is more just water down there as opposed to sewage.”
Shaw replies, “right except there is a monster down there killing people.”
“You don’t want to wear your good clothes,” Dr. Sorenson comments.
“I’m with you on that,” Robert quips. “Plus I don’t have any good clothes.”
Dr. Sorenson voices his worry that Vito was their best combatant. He advises, “we need to stick together.”
Robert suggests bringing the grenades, but Shaw vetoes that idea. To allay worries, she points out that only animals and people on their own have gone missing.
They arm themselves with guns, maps, and flashlights. Dr. Sorenson brings a comprehensive first aid kit as well as a pocket knife. Robert Mill readies his pepper spray while Shaw secretly injects herself with some of the last of the BNSX-7.
Downtown, 10 PM
As they head for the sewer entrance, Shaw recognizes the prostitute on the corner. She approaches the woman and asks, “by the way if you don’t hear from me tomorrow, could you let the cops know?”
With the knowledge at least someone might come after them, the investigators descend into the sewers. The rusty rungs under the grate stick out of damp concrete. Robert is down first, splashing into ankle high water. His tennis shoes fill instantly. Sorenson’s galoshes handle the moist environment better. Shaw is down last, wearing thigh high leather boots.
Robert curses and shines his light around the damp tunnel. He spots a raincoat downstream of them.
As Mill picks it up, Sorenson asks, “why would he have left his coat?”
They check the coat but its empty. They speculate he might have just left it behind.
Moving on, they walk down tunnel until they find the ladder mentioned in Frank Brooks’s file. The grime on the lower rungs has been knocked off, indicating someone used it recently. They climb up, swinging over part way into a gap in the wall. The tunnels here are drier, consisting of old sealed off basements. They can pick up some recent foot traffic.
They find the site of Frank’s cannibal family. The area is still blackened from the fire two decades ago. A few bones litter the ground and a rock has been shifted away from the wall. Shaw looks closer. The rocks was moved very recently and there is an old crib inside, untouched by the fire.
Sorenson meanwhile focuses on the old bones. They are human, though the skulls are missing. At least four individuals. One was only a child though. The bones show signs of malnutrition but the also signs of extreme musculature. They must have been stumpy body builders.
“I think this is a crib over here,” Shaw says.
“A crib?” Robert asks.
Shaw holds up a chew toy from the crib. A squeaky noise is emitted when she squeezes it.
Robert relays the details of the footprints on the ground. There are three sets: two with shoes and one barefoot. All the prints head further down the tunnel. One of the prints could be Vito’s. Those are very recent.
Sorenson seems worried but Shaw reassures him, “It is good if he’s walking.”
“Do we want to call out?” the doctor suggests.
They turn their lights down the tunnel. It slopes down and a thin layer of water covers the floor. They trudge down to an four way intersection.
Shining his light down the tunnels, Robert spots something down the left hand branch, a helmet with a built in flashlight.
As he points it out, Sorenson says, “he wouldn’t have left that behind. Unless…”
Robert cuts him off. “I guess we go left.”
“Let’s mark this tunnel so we know how to get back.” The doctor scratches an arrow on the wall.
“Good,” Shaw says. “You two go first I’ll guard our rear.”
Sorenson pulls his pistol and holds it out crossed with his flashlight as they move forward. Shaw stops him and adjusts his grip to something more reasonable.
The tunnel up ahead is rough but drier. As the reach a portion that zigzags a bit, something comes out of the shadows behind them.
Robert hears it moving and whirls around. He quickly back peddles into a wall as he fires his gun. The creature screeches in pain as the bullet blows through its shoulder. The other investigators are deafened by the noise in the tight space. In the flash of the gun shot, they see a pale deformed person with large cataract eyes.
Shaw turns her gun on it. She shouts, “stand down!”
Sorenson freaking out, shoots it. The bullet penetrates its legs. Red blood splatters the wall behind it. It scurries away in agony, slipping into a 2 foot high tunnel that was cloaked in shadow.
“We’ve got to find its lair,” Sorenson says, breathing heavily. “If somehow it got the jump on Vito and dragged him back to its lair, it might consume him.”
“WHAT?” Robert says, still deafened. After a moment he adds, “I need to wear ear plugs.”
Shaw meanwhile keeps her gun trained on the hole it fled down. The others look for signs of where Vito went. They find drag marks of Vito’s body continuing down the tunnel.
“It probably has more pop-up holes,” Shaw says. “Keep a look out.”
Sorenson scratches an “X” over the hole and they continue on.
The tunnel descends a bit. Sewage drips from cracks in the ceiling. Robert covers his face to cover the stench. Soon afterwards they find the tunnel is crossed by a torrent of water. They spot Vito’s trail on the far side and leap across. The tunnels slopes up gentler, becoming drier until it reaches a series of steps going down.
“Hold up,” Shaw says, spotting another bolt hole low to the ground. She shines her flash light into the small tunnel. Drops of fresh blood cover the floor but there are no other signs of the monster. Sorenson scratches an “O” above the tunnel.
As they descend the steps, Robert halts them, “hold up.” He points out the dusty fishing line across the path. The line is tied to a wooden brace. looking up they see its holding up much of the ceiling. “Frick look at that. Good grief.”
“Good eyes,” Shaw says.
Robert disarms the trap and they press on. They pass through a break in a brick wall and find themselves in a warehouse basement. The air is foul down here as if something died. Shing the light around, they see stacks of crates and piles of bones. Most of the remains are from animals but not all. None of the human skulls are present.
They follow the trail of fresh blood into the chamber.In the center of the room, they find a claring. There four human skulls stand balanced on sticks, looming over a pile of a half dozen skulls. On in the pile is still covered in blood.
Dr. Sorenson takes a look at it. Its probably male and looks like the flesh was gnawed off. “That looks like our author’s skull.”
Shaw recovers the skull. They look around for the cannibal. As Sorenson looks up, Robert spots it hiding under a mass of blankets and bedding. He turns his pistol on it and fires.
It screams and leaps to its feet. As it hisses at them, Robert fires again. The bullet splatters its brain across the back wall. It falls forward and dies.
“Is that the only one?” Dr. Sorenson asks.
“I think so,” Shaw says. “Keep your wits about you in any case.”
Robert looks down at the corpse. In the light its just a blind deformed human. “I think I might throw up actually. I think I will.”
After robert regains his composure, they search around and find Vito’s unconscious form. Sorenson breaks out the medical kit. His vitals are weak but steady. He removes the crude rope restraints and patches him up as best he can.
“This could be pretty good publicity for us,” Shaw speculates. “Just saying.”
Sorenson looks up from his work. “How are we going to get him out of here? He needs medical attention.”
They decided to rig up a carrying device with the rain coat. Shaw takes pictures of the scene. Then they drag Vito out as well as Terrance’s remains.
Once above ground they get Vito to the hospital. Shaw lets her hooker friend know that she is alright.
After the doctors tell them Vito will be okay, Sorenson says to the others, “hopefully he will learn his lesson not to go off on his own. Its arrogant, stupid.”
“It really is,” Shaw agrees.
Shaw takes care of filing a report with the police. They turn over the skull and map out where the cannibal’s lair is. Shaw also gives them an edited version of Frank’s file (minus the part with the murdering cannibals).
As they head home for the night, Shaw tells Robert and Sorenson, “write up your notes for the Ambrose investigation in the morning so we can bill those hours.”
That night before sleep, Dr. Sorenson takes three showers.
Seattle, May 13th and 14th
The company shadows Dr. Warden for a day. Shaw brings Dr. Ilyes to help while Vito recovers. Warden maintains a fairly boring routine. He leaves the house at 7:30 AM each morning, stops at Starbucks on his way to work, and then works at the hospital until late at night. Then he goes home and sleeps. Dr. Sorenson’s medical contacts reveal the doctor spends a lot of time in the less used parts of the hospital.
Their research on the doctor turns up very little. After pouring over files, websites, and other documents, they discover he doesn’t seem to exist. He has no college record, no birth certificate, and no organization connections. The hospital records have him listed as Adam Warden. He’s worked there since 1990 as a general practioner. He definitely has medical knowledge though and works on patients everyday.
With some work they put together a sketch of his appearance. He has a family resemblance to Ambrose. His neighbors have never seen him at local parties. His finances are boring. He is 15 years into a 30 year mortgage on his house and has no outside investments.
Robert ask, “what I want to know is, is Grant an evil fiend controlling all of this or is he a pawn of some sort, having things happen to him?”
“It could be that he was just born with this ability that led to his recruitment,” Sorenson speculates.
“Our current employers just want to find him,” Shaw says. She argues Warden is connected to Grant somehow. He is clearly one of these Tulpas. He was also the last person to see Frank. He even shares Ambrose Grant‘s original first name. "Warden is our best live link but I don’t want to move in on him until Vito recovers."
Sorenson nods. “I agree we don’t want to leap into anything with him yet.”
“Our research is that he is a boring doppelganger,” Robert says. “He doesn’t do anything.”
Shaw considers that. “But it must be important if he’s held that position for so long.”
“And the coma patients were talking about him.”
“If that’s what they were talking about,” Sorenson opinions.
They discuss their next step. They still haven’t tried contacting Doretta, his ex-wife. She might be dead, but Frank’s file suggests she is a ghost. Sorenson suggests now might be the time. Robert warns it could be a trick and that she was really a doppelganger. Robert suggests dealing with tunnels beneath Hillcrest Center first.
Sorenson suggest Frank might now something. In the end they decide to talk to Frank. Then Shaw weighs in for dealing with the tunnels. “Our employers might not want us to tear down that wall. So I want to do it and then bill them for it. You talk to Frank and we’ll meet up with you after hours.”
Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, May 13th, 4 PM
“Frank, you seem to be doing a lot batter.”
“Yes, I think so,” he says cautiously.
“Well we have been looking into some of your old case work, hoping we would find some clues that would understand your condition a bit more. We came across a case you did: Doretta Teesdale. She originally contacted you in 1992 to investigate her ex-husband’s disappearance or death. She didn’t think he was dead. But what concerns me is that she died later that year. We are pretty sure of that. But then she contacted you in 2008 and you reopened the case. Do you remember meeting with her? Or do you think she was a ghost?”
“I don’t really remember,” Frank says after struggling to remember. He offers,“I remember her.”
Sorenson continues to probe. “Well the language was vague but your notes say you went to contact her and help her move on. It seems to insinuate she is a ghost.”
“I agree. I guess she might be. If she died and I talked to her after that.”
“Does any of this jogs your memory? It seems to be connected to the Sandmen with her husband’s case.”
“She told me something,” Frank says. “She had a reason, recently. I don’t remember why but she said she knew something about Grant. I can’t remember what.”
Dr. Sorenson asks if he met her at her house. After a moment he says, “Yes. It was a nice old Victorian home.”
“Was that the first time in 1992?”
“I’m not sure.”
Dr. Sorenson asks the old detective about the Tulpas and other specifics but he doesn’t know or remember any of it. When he asks about the hidden tunnels under Hillcrest, he advises, “you should bring some guns.”
However when he mentions Harborview, it sparks something. “Harborview, harborview. there was soemthing…the was something there.”
“Something? Like a creature? Or a place or object?” Sorenson asks.
“Creature or person?” He tries to remember. “Someone or something is there.”
“We believe a tulpa is there. We think Dr. Warden is one of these creatures and using the hospital as his base of operations.”
“Did he do this to me?” Frank asks.
“I don’t know. Its possible.” The doctor mentions Frank’s records of his earlier memory lapses back in the 90s.
“You should be careful then.”
As their session wraps up, Sorenson asks, “my last question is about Keystone. Did they have you do any work for them?”
“No.” The patient mulls it over. “Keystone. There was a friend who worked for Keystone.”
“Do you know their name?”
“No,” Franks sighs.
“Man or woman?”
“Man. He had dark skin.”
“He was a personal friend or was he a business friend?”
Frank struggles to remember context. “I guess we were personal friends.”
Sorenson continues to pick at Frank’s mind for details. “When you say dark skin do you mean African American?”
“No.” Frank struggles for a moment. “Indian.”
Sorenson’s mind flashes to the mention of Rajiv. “And you trusted him?”
“Was his name Rajiv? Was that his name?”
Frank seems relieved. “Yeah that’s his name. Yes. I remember. Rajiv Ramadaas.”
Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, May 13th, 6 PM
“So Rajiv works for Keystone and provided information Fran,” Robert says. “So were they really friends or did Rajiv provide bad information?”
“Frank seemed to trust him,” the doctor says.
They discuss who they can really trust. Robert ends with, “Infinity has been helpful and all but I’ve read books. Often the big reveal at the end is that person who was helping you ends up being the villain all along. I know that this isn’t a book but I don’t know who trust right now.”
Shaw says, “at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if Ambrose is in the basement of Harborview somehow pulling the strings from his hospital bed.”
Robert points out that the report said that psychics could effect Tulpas.
They shelve that discussion for now. Before heading downstairs they check the video recording of the last week. No one enters but they can all hear creepy scratching noises from the wall.
The closet is unoccupied as usual. They move one of the dusty shelves out of the way, shifting the boxes of files and jars of organs and goo. They knock on the plastered-over brick. A hollow sound comes from one section.
As Sorenson watches the hallway, Robert gets out the saw and begins to cut through the wall. Twenty minutes later, the lower blocks tumble free and a hole is opened in the wall.
“Good job,” Shaw says.
Robert comments, “something was weird about these bricks they came out much easier.” As they clear out the debris they find the bricks have been half torn apart with claws.
Dr. Sorenson shines a flashlight into the hole. Old concrete stairs are illuminated. They go down.
Robert swigs a bottle of water. “That was hard work.”
Shaw moves some file boxes near the hole so they can hide the evidence afterwards. Consulting Erin’s map, these stairs should go to subbasement.
Sorenson warns them, “be prepared there could be something dangerous down there. Something was trying to claw it way out.”
As they go down the stairs, they find a thin layer of dust on the ground. there are no footprints or other signs of whatever made that noise.
“Anyone have doses of that drug left?” Robert asks.
“I have one dose but its back at my houseboat,” Shaw admits.
“I have some in my kit,” Dr. Sorenson reassures them.
“Good,” Robert says. “I don’t want to take it but its good we have it.”
The stairs open out onto a hallway. In the darkness, they can make out lights hanging from the ten foot high ceiling, old incandescents with disks surrounding them to focus the light down. The ground is still dusty and lacking in prints. As they decide which way to go, Shaw finds a light switch.
She pulls the switch. One by one they click on, except one down the left side which pops loudly. In the stark lighting they can see the discolored hallway stretching away in each direction.
“There’s electricity still in this wing,” Sorenson says surprised.
Cautiously they listen. After a period of silence, they hear distant giggling from left corridor.
They put their flash lights away and head left. They come across a pair of doors to either side. A dusty label on each says “Supplies.”
Robert says, “we should check these doors just in case.”
The doctor nods. “Plus they might be clues to what we are up against.”
The first contains boxes of equipment, including some early electroshock treatment gear. The other is full of decaying clothes, mostly hospital gowns and straight jackets.
Sorenson speculates, “so this is where they treated the really deranged patients with the barbaric treatments from back then.”
They continue down the hall. It turns right and passes an unlabeled door. Poking their heads inside they see rows of jars on shelves, each with a preserved organs. Some of the labels have peeled off and lie mixed up on the floor.
“It disturbs me that there are so many organs in jars. This isn’t normal,” Sorenson says.
The corridor turns right a final time and opens into a large chamber. Six steel tables with straps occupy the center of the room with ten doors with small windows lining the walls. Another corridor exits the room opposite.
Quietly they explore the chamber. Boxes of surgical tools and ice picks lie neatly stacked by the wall. Nothing has been used in a century but it all looks ready to be used at a moments notice.
Robert focuses on the doors. Each leads to a small patient cell.
Shaw looks down the other hallway. It appears to leading back the way they came. Disturbingly she can hear child-like giggling down the corridor they just left.
Then Robert finds one cell which has a man sized hole in the floor.
Shaw instructs him, “check the others first.”
“I wonder if this is where Community thought it could go,” Sorenson contemplates.
After finishing his inspection, he looks at the hole. Shining his light down, he can see it descend at an angle for fifteen feet. It looks easy to climb, though he’d hate to do it quickly.
Shaw suggests making a rope out of straight jackets. Robert says, “Let’s do that in case I get stuck down there.”
As they lower Robert down, they hear more giggling back the way they came. Dr. Sorenson turns to Shaw. “Should we be worried?”
She considers. “They could be bricking us in but you saw the children upstairs so its not like we let them out.” She makes sure they don’t sneak up on them in case.
Down in the tunnel, Robert find he has enough room to stand hunched over. He calls up, “there’s room to stand down here. Can you guys here me? The tunnel splits.”
Sorenson calls down, “yes, but I don’t think you should go any further on your own.”
Robert shines his light down each branch of the tunnels. On the right he sees something that doesn’t reflect his light. Its perhaps fifty feet down. The tunnel is cramped but maneuverable.
They pull him back up and talk. They decide to sweep the other hallway before they all go down. They quickly check the other hall, hearing the giggling from every so often. But there is no trace of the source. Shaw shines her light back up the stairs and sees the hole is still there.
They all return to the earthen tunnel. They descend. walls are made of compact dirt and rocks. Taking the right tunnel, they soon spot the object. It is a large black cube, a yard to a side, sticking out of the ground. It looks very similar to Community’s drawing.
The investigators have an unsettling feeling looking at the cube. It doesn’t reflect any of their light. Another cube is a short distance away poking out of a wall. A third seems be hovering in mid air.
“That’s a nice trick,” Sorenson says.
Taking a closer look at the cube, the doctor decides to see what its made of. He pulls out his pocket knife and scratches the surface. No damage is done to the cube, but it deforms like the surface of a LCD screen. A circle of light expands out from where the knife touched the cube, sending a rings about the cube. Strange symbols are illuminated as it passes.
Shaw instinctively moves away.
The knife in Trevor’s hand becomes icy cold. He drops it and it shatters on the hard ground. Suddenly they are all wracked by horrible pain.
After a moment they stop screaming. But Sorenson freaks out. Faced with the impossibility of this object, he pulls out his gun and pulls the trigger.
As Shaw begins to move in response, she sees a small group of giggling children filling the tunnel behind them.