Under the Hillcrest Mental Health Center, May 13th 8 PM
Trevor shoots the impossible black cube. The bullet flattens against its surface. As a ripple of light floats across the cube, Trevor begins to vanish as if he was being rotated out of reality.
Shaw turns to create a path of escape through the gang of children blocking the tunnel. She tries to manhandle the kids out of the way. Robert pulls his pistol and shoots one of them. As it screams in pain, its fellows rush forward and grab Shaw, pulling her down.
Others, towards the back, stare into Robert’s eyes. He feels paralyzing fear. He realizes they are inside his mind and he freezes up.
Shaw frees herself and backs away. Suddenly her body is wracked with pain as the children use their powers on her. They run around her as she is stunned and a pair of them begin to drag Robert down the tunnel.
At that point Trevor reappears. Still freaking out he tries to flee but trips right into the children. However as they try to grab him, he again vanishes from reality.
Shaw meanwhile regains her composure to find the kids trying to pin her. She puts her gun to one of their heads and fires. The child melts into black goo. She fires again wounding the one Robert shot earlier. Their numbers diminishing she is able to beat her way free.
Trevor reappears again and scrambles back up the tunnel to the subbasement. The children chase after him but only weakly grab at his feet as he pulls his way up into the abandoned patient cell. Running into the operating room, he finds himself alone. With no one chasing him he is able to regain his composure.
He returns to the tunnel to find Shaw fighting off the last of the children. He shoots the most wounded one and it dissolves into black goo. The surviving children flee. However as the investigators catch their breath they realize Robert is gone.
Trevor leads the way down the tunnels searching for telltale drag marks of where Robert was taken. A trail of black blood from a wounded child goes down a side passage. They follow the main trail until it hits a fork. Faced with the choice of falling behind or losing him entirely, they carefully study the location. Ten minutes later, they take the left fork.
“How did they find the strength to carry him so quickly?” the doctor mutters. “They must have met up with some of their allies.”
Elsewhere in the tunnels, Robert awakens alone in the dark. The earth floor is cool and damp. He searches around him. His gun, his pepper spray, even his shoes have been stolen. He thinks back to what happened. He remembers being carried through the dark, their thoughts in his head, and having strange rods pressed to his skin and the terrible pain they inflicted. He checks his body. He is unhurt.
Groping around, he finds a path downward out of the room as well as narrower passage upward. He hears noises approaching from below and hastily crawls up.
Meanwhile the others hear something ahead of them and race to meet it. The path slopes upward through an earthen chamber.
Robert climbs up out of a hole in a stone tiled floor. There is a foul smell in the air but he can see the dim outline of a door. He pulls himself up scattering some tiles and something like sticks. He pushes a stone door open and wanders out into a graveyard. Its dark but he can see street lights in the distance.
Trevor and Shaw climb up after him. They find themselves in a crypt. Shaw calls out to Robert.
“Where did the children go?” Sorenson wonders aloud.
“What?” Mill asks as he approaches.
Sorenson repeats the question and adds, “How did you get away?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what happened.”
“Are you hurt?” Shaw asks.
“No. Are you guys okay?”
“I shot one and it turned into black goo,” she replies grimacing.
Robert thinks back. “That’s what you said happened in the Hillcrest center once.”
“I didn’t see it that time,” she explains.
“Well, when I saw Community kill one, that’s what I saw,” Dr. Sorenson adds.
Robert looks around. “Where are we? What time is it?”
Shaw looks up toward the hill where the Hillcrest Center looms. “Looks like the graveyard that surrounds the sanitarium.”
“That makes sense.”
Dr. Sorenson shifts uneasily. “Why did they dump you? I would assume they would have -”
“Killed me?” Robert interjects. “I don’t know.”
Shaw looks back at the crypt. It belongs to someone with the improbable name of Terrance Smiley.
Sorenson follows her gaze. “Well we have a back door if we need to return.”
“I don’t really want to go back there,” Robert admits.
“I wonder what their purpose is?” the doctor asks. “I thought they were somewhat neutral.”
“So you guys are alright then?” Robert asks.
“Except for my pride,” the doctor says.
Shaw explains, “Sorenson came back and we were able to fight them off. Then we followed your trail here.”
“Thanks for coming after me,” Robert says.
“We’ve seen some crazy things. I wouldn’t want to leave anyone to their control,” Sorenson says.
They begin to discuss if anything down there was connected to Ambrose. Then Robert realizes something. “Frick, we need to get back to the hospital and gather up our stuff.”
“Its not far,” the doctor says.
Robert looks down at his dirty state of undress. “I can’t go back given I’m missing some clothes.”
“I can take care of things,” Sorenson says.
Shaw takes charge. “Let’s go back to the front and Sorenson and I will make sure the way in is closed.”
Sorenson adds. “And we’ll chalk that one up to experience and evaluate what we learned a different time.”
They return to the hospital. While Robert takes a nap in the car, the others clean up the closet entrance, stacking up bricks and boxes to obscure the way into the subbasement.
Returning to the car, Sorenson suggests Robert might want to be checked out mentally and physically.
Robert adds, “Shaw I assume I do need to report to the police that I lost my gun? Probably not a good thing to lose a pistol.”
“Yeah, you should report it stolen,” she says.
“Good idea, let’s report it stolen.”
Then they head home.
Friday, May 14th
Robert Mill takes Friday off. That morning he wakes up again and again from terrible nightmares. He sees a giant child playing with black blocks. It offers him one. Dr. Sorenson doesn’t feel much better. He is nauseous and suffering a fever. He also takes off from work. Shaw is left alone in the office to takes care of the paperwork. She dutifully bills Keystone Pharmaceuticals for their night’s labor, claiming their investigation was a follow up on one of the last known places Ambrose Grant was seen.
Around 10 AM Shaw calls Mill. He quickly answers, “Hello? What’s going on?”
“Hey, how are you doing?”
He says tiredly, “I just got up for your call.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you would be up already. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. Do you need a ride to the hospital or anything?”
“That would be good.” he says. “I haven’t been sleeping too well. I feel a little off.”
“Alright. Have you made an appointment yet?” she asks.
“Okay, I’ll have Mavis schedule you. I’ll text you when I come by.”
Later at the hospital, the doctor tells them Mill is physically fine, just fatigued. He is prescribed some sleep medication. Dr. Sorenson diagnoses himself at home. He is clearly ill with some mundane bug, probably contracted during their trip to the sewers. He spends the day drinking plenty of fluids and watching G-rated movies with no children in them. Elsewhere Vito continues his recovery.
Shaw researches how to deal with ghosts. She tells Mill, “I definitely don’t have my ouija board anymore.”
Robert tells how to contact VI to get some information from him. Reluctantly she goes through with it, spray painting an eye in a nearby alley. A few hours later Mill’s phone rings. Mavis routes it to Shaw’s phone.
“Got your message,” VI says.
“Hi this is Shaw, Mill is recovering from one of our excursions,” she replies.
Surprised he asks, “is he okay?”
“Yeah, I think he’ll be fine. The doctor says there is no lasting damage. I was hoping you might be able to give me some pointers on contacting the dead.”
“I can help with that,” he admits.
“Am I going to need s ouija board?” she asks, seriously.
“Well, what are we talking about there? Poltergeists? An apparition?”
After some back and forth, they set up a meeting that evening to discuss the details.
“Great I’ll bring up what I have on the contactee,” Shaw says. After hanging up she calls the neighborhood watch to report the graffiti.
The Jade Garden, International District, Seattle, 6 PM
“Sure,” he replies.
As they wait for their food, Shaw gives him a file on Doretta Teesdale. He reads over it and then asks, “Okay. So we don’t actually know what she is like?”
“Not really.” She goes over the reported sightings and asks, “Have you actually seen ghosts?”
Almost gleeful, VI pulls out his handy-cam. On the small video monitor, he shows her a strange green smudge floating in the air of some old house.
“Wait, wait here’s the moment,” he says. The apparition suddenly manifests as a mass of teeth and claws. The video ends. “I had to get out of there after that.”
“That looked more like an animal than a person,” she comments.
“Yeah. But its a ghost.”
“Is that a ghost of a person? Is that what happens to them?” she asks, curious.
“Some of them. I guess,” he shrugs.
“I’m hoping Doretta is not as animalistic as that. Are there any special ways of talking to them? Or do they mostly choose to talk to you?”
VI shares the rumors he’s heard of people with the ability to command ghosts. Unfortunately that’s all they are, rumors.
“So is any particular time of day is best?” Shaw asks.
“Nights are best. The fewer people the better,” he advises. He adds, “I’ve got some cameras that should pick them up.”
“You mean I wouldn’t be able to see that with my own eyes?”
“Only the last bit,” he tells her. He fills her in on special filters, Kirlian cameras, and various energy meters. Shaw takes careful notes.
Shaw mentions their recent activities under the Hillcrest Center.
“What was down there?” he asks.
She tells him about the children.
“I’ve heard about them,” he says. “They are some weird underground cult. I heard they eat people.”
“Eat?” she says disbelievingly.
“That’s what I heard.”
Shaw explains the children didn’t physically hurt them. “Even Mill and they had him for an hour.”
“Is he really okay?” he asks skeptically.
“I don’t know. But they certainly didn’t eat him.”
She tells him what they seemed capable of. As they wrap up, VI offers to help with the ghosts but Shaw declines his offer.
Saturday May 15th
The doctor is still recovering. “I think I’ll be better tomorrow. I think I must have picked up something from the sewers.”
Robert meanwhile is still sleeping poorly.
Shaw decided to contact the bank that owns the property. She convinces them to show her the place and allow her to investigate it. She claims she is representing prospective buyers who want to look into this haunted claim before buying. They arrange for someone to meet her Sunday afternoon at the house with the keys.
Rainier Valley, Seattle, Sunday May 16th 3PM
Shaw doses herself with BSNX-7 before going down to the house. A man from the bank is there to show her around. The property is a nicely maintained Victorian home. It is partially furnished with no signs of its dark past.
“If we are lucky the ghost will contact us and we won’t need all of this stuff,” the doctor says.
“You call that lucky?” Robert says.
The open the blinds to let in more of the fading light.
“How did you wrangle this?” Sorenson asks.
Shaw explains she claimed to have buyers who wanted to have a closer look.
Robert perks up. “How much is it?”
Shaw tells him the price.
“Pretty good price.”
Shaw pulls the camera and meters from the boxes. Robert trains the camera on her and sees an aura about her. She also tentatively hands Robert one of Frank’s guns.
Robert decides not to take a meter. He seems withdrawn.
“Are you not feeling well?” Shaw asks.
“I’m just not sleeping well. I think whatever they did to me, it has caused me to be a little skittish.”
“Maybe you should talk to the doctor?” she says.
He looks at Sorenson. “That doctor?”
“Yeah. He’s under contract.”
He mulls the idea. “Okay. It might not be the worst thing to do.”
Shaw lays out the plan. They will sweep house with the cameras and meters first. Then they will set up to watch the house for the evening. She hands Sorenson one of the meters. “This is a fancy thermometer.”
The doctor looks the device over. It seems to register something called psychokinetic energy as well as electric fields and temperature. He waves it around, picking up some spikes in activity.
Robert starts using the camera. “Is this thing recording?”
Shaw tells him, “just keeps your eyes open.”
They soon detect a cold spot at the base of stairs. Shaw asks, “are you guys seeing anything here?”
Sorenson replies, “I’m getting some readings but I don’t know how to interpret them.”
Robert goes upstairs. He pats the doll hanging from his side. As he sweeps over a hallway, he sees an old woman for a moment in the video screen. He whispers downstairs, “Guys, guys! I saw something here!”
They come up but he doesn’t see her up again. He rewinds the tape. There is a pretty woman with long dark hair streaked with gray.
“That looks like her,” Shaw says.
“It matches the autopsy reports descriptions,” Sorenson seconds.
After some more searching they decide to wait until dark. They set the cameras to focus on the stairs. Robert stays upstairs where he saw her while the others stay at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Sorenson waits at the bottom of the stairs, occasionally wandering a bit to make sure nothing is occurring elsewhere. While in the kitchen he spots a teapot on the stove. It looks like it was just placed there.
He shouts upstairs, “did someone leave a pot of tea on the stove?”
“No,” Shaw and Robert’s voices reply.
Shaw comes down to check on Sorenson. While Robert asks, “What kind of tea?”
Sorenson picks up the teapot. Its warm and full of water. “Someone put the kettle on to boil.”
Shaw shouts, “any readings?”
Dr. Sorenson turns around to take a reading. There is a woman standing in front of him. Nervously he shouts back, “there’s a woman down here.”
The woman quietly asks him, “would you like some tea?”
Sorenson cautiously says, “we would love to have some tea and talk awhile. Thank you for communicating with us.”
The woman tells him, “just sit in the living room. I’ll bring be by in a moment with tea.”
He nervously shouts upstairs, “she’s serving tea in the parlor.”
They gather in the parlor. Shaw sets her camera on fireplace mantel to record everything. Robert keeps looking through the camera. He catches her on camera. She is translucent with a weak flickering aura.
Sorenson makes an effort to be polite to “Doretta”. The teapot whistles and they can here he assembling tea.
“What kind of tea is it Mrs. Teesdale?” Robert asks.
She comes out with a platter with a selection of teas. He looks almost like her pictures, just a little older than when she died.
“Nice to have visitors,” Doretta says.
“We’re friends of Frank’s,” Shaw explains.
“How is he?” she asks setting down the platter.
“He’s doing better,” Shaw explains.
Dr. Sorenson adds, “we’re trying to pick up the investigation where Frank left off.”
“That’s so nice of you,” Doretta says. “Ambrose really does need your help.”
“Yes, and it would help Frank a lot to help him in his troubles,” he replies.
Shaw asks, “can you tell us what you know about Ambrose?”
As Shaw pulls out her pad, Doretta pours some tea. “Oh I really do hope you can find my husband. He is in such pain. The accident, it has left him trapped.”
The older woman says, “inside his body. He can’t move, can’t speak. He’s in so much pain.”
Dr. Sorenson says, “like a coma but he’s completely coherent inside. If he could only connect with his physical body.”
Doretta nods in agreement. “Yes. He needs your help to move on.”
“Do you have any conception of where he might be?” Robert asks.
She looks down. “No, unfortunately. I just know he needs my help.”
“What do you mean by move on?” he presses.
“There is nothing that can be done for him. He is still in pain while he is alive.” She hesitates. “I know its sounds horrible but he needs to be allowed to die.”
“What’s stopping him?” Shaw asks.
“He wants to die but he can’t do it on his own,” Doretta explains. “Some part of him won’t let him do that.”
Robert asks if Ambrose had any enemies. “Ambrose had many enemies but I don’t think any of them are involved. I think he is just trapped in a prison of his own making.”
Dr. Sorenson asks if there might be paperwork about where he is. She says, “whatever they are doing to him, it is not legal.”
Robert asks about if Ambrose really had psychic powers. She explains, “Yes. He could read minds, lift objects, and change what people think.”
“He sounds like a very special man,” Sorenson says softly.
“He is,” she says smiling.
Shaw asks Doretta if she is sure Ambrose can effect the world while paralyzed. She press for evidence.
Doretta looks into her tea. “He pushed me.”
“Why would he do that?” Shaw asks. “You obviously care about him.”
“I do, its just…I think he blames me for what happened to him.”
“Why would he jump to such a terrible conclusion?” Dr. Sorenson asks.
“We were drinking and we had an argument. I-I pushed him. I didn’t mean to hurt him but he fell. He fell into the water. I tried to save him but he was gone.”
“Why would he push you after so long?” Shaw asks.
Doretta speculates, “maybe he that was when he realized I was in the city.”
“How do you feel?” Robert asks.
“Heavy.” She sighs. “I just need you to take care of this one last task to help Ambrose.”
They review her time with Ambrose, the arguments and the estrangement, looking for missing clues.
“Did you hope to reconcile with him, before the accident?” Sorenson asks.
Robert backs away from the conversation and scans the area for anything else happening. Shaw reviews her notes and Dr. Sorenson continues the questioning. Doretta doesn’t seem to be lying or holding anything back.
Doretta’s House, Rainier Valley, 9 PM
Robert Mill notices three figures outside. They appear to be men in dark suits.
“Shaw,” he says beckons her to the window. He turns the camera on them. They are blurry with weird spiky auras.
“He had some sort of project,” Doretta says. “I don’t know what it was about.”
“Do you know where he might have kept notes or records, any sort of documentation about what he was doing?”
“I don’t know.”
Dr. Sorenson glances at the others. They are looking out the window. The men outside have blank face, just sunglasses, a nose and line for a mouth. No lips or eyebrows, no lines on their smooth faces.
Shaw gives a signal for them to back up and grabs her camera from the mantle. “Miss Teesdale?”
“Yes?” the woman says.
“There are three creatures approaching. Are they known to you?”
“Does your house have any defenses.”
Sorenson tells Doretta, “We may have to leave abruptly but do you know of any location that Ambrose may have hidden any of his research? A secret office he might have had?”
She thinks quickly. “He spent a lot of time in Yesler Terrace. I don’t know what he was doing down there. I never really asked.”
The investigators quickly psyche themselves up to deal with the Tulpas. Shaw explains she wants to talk their way out, hopefully pumping them for information.
They head for the front door. As they leave Sorenson tells Doretta, “Thank you for the tea. We’ll keep you updated.”
They exit out the front and Shaw locks up behind them. The three figures are on the front lawn in front of them.
“Oh hey. Hi. How’s it going?” the doctor says to the mannequin like figures. “I don’t suppose you’ve come to take a look at the place?”
They look blankly at him.
“Hello?” Shaw says.
One of them steps forward.
The doctor says, “we can talk about this right? You have some interest here.”
They begin to walk forward.
Shaw shouts, “Stop!”
As they continue their advance, Mill quickly draws his gun and shoots one of them. It moves with superhuman speed but the bullet goes through its heart. It screams and its skin flakes away like old paint. In seconds it is reduced to nothing more than a pile of clothing.
“That’s not what we discussed!” Shaw shouts.
“That plan failed.” Robert replies bluntly.
The other two “men” close with Robert. They scuffle with him and one clips his shoulder with a wild swing.
Shaw grapples with one of them while Sorenson tackles the other, knocking it off balance. It swings wildly at him, grazing his back.
Shaw meanwhile ducks under a headbutt. She tries to pin the man but he is too strong for her.
Sorenson pulls his pocket knife and tries to keep their attention on him. “Come on bring it on!”
Robert takes his time. He moves away form the combat, aims and shoots the one on Sorenson in the shoulder. It begins to act strangely, tottering away with its features melting like hot wax. It begins to become shorter and shorted until it completely disintegrates.
“Help me pin this guy!” Shaw shouts just as the last one breaks free of her hold.
Robert wings him with a bullet. He seems hurt but doesn’t bleed. Shaw tries to wrestle him again with Sorenson’s help but he slips away.
Then he becomes invisible.
“We need to take him alive,” Shaw says, still able to see him. “Get your cameras out. He’s still right there.”
She jumps at him but slips and smashes her face into the concrete. By the time she recovers he is gone.
They search the scene quickly. There are no signs of how they got here and no residue on the clothes.
“Let’s get out of here before the cops come,” Sorenson says. He turns to Robert. “I thought that the plan was we weren’t going to go in guns blazing?”
“I was scared.”
“How about you hand me that gun,” Shaw demands.
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, 10 PM
Back at the office, the investigators discuss their next step.
Shaw starts with, “We didn’t learn much new there. We can have Ilyes analyze the clothes, but there doesn’t seem anything left of them.”
“Its possible that the matter that composes their bodies returns to whatever dimension they came from,” Dr. Sorenson speculates.
“Dimension?” Shaw says incredulously.
Sorenson babbles something about Astral projections and dimensions of the mind.
“What does that mean? Astral Projection,” Robert asks.
Sorenson describes it as sending one’s mind to other locations. “I’m not saying I believe in astral projection but they match up with that. They may have returned to their bodies when disrupted.”
“They weren’t very sturdy that’s for sure,” Robert comments. “That does lend some credence to that idea.”
They go over the Tulpas and their invisibility effect. It seems to be a purely mental effect.
Shaw points out, “whoever is trying to stop us is watching that house. It could be Ambrose himself.”
“I just had a crazy thought,” Dr. Sorenson says. He explains his idea that the creatures may be aspects of Ambrose’s mind trying to stop them from finding him. The others admit they had the same conclusion.
“Doretta could conceivably be a thought form of Ambrose,” Shaw adds.
“Part of his subconscious trying to defeat himself,” he muses.
They review the facts and theorize that Ambrose might be behind all of this, even the missing person case of Kenneth Thomas.
Planning for their next step they outline a few possibilities. Frank might know something. They could also return to the House or investigating next door at Ashwood Heights. They might also shadow Dr. Warden.
Shaw advocates caution. She advises them to do a bit more research first.
Turning to Robert, she says, “you know, on the police force, whenever you discharge your weapon you have to write a report. You’ve been a little bit gun happy. I’m not saying it hasn’t been unproductive but its starting to worry me a little bit honestly.”
“I agree that I’m becoming the new Vito,” Robert reluctantly agrees. “You have my gun anyway so its less of a problem.”
They decide to work some more on the case on Monday.
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Monday May 16th
Shaw and Mill research Ashwood Heights. It is managed by a company called Millenial Housing. The finances for the place are pretty bad. It doesn’t seem built to turn a profit, charging very low rents for what, on paper, should be a nice place to live. It was supported by a trust but that is almost empty.
The complex itself is three stories high with fifty units. The entrance process requires a strange and complex approval process, including a questionnaire about the applicant’s history. They notice that the construction work involved several invoices for material used in medical and computer equipment.
That evening as they fill in Sorenson, he speculates, “there is some hidden place there. Maybe that is where he ended up. His body might be in that place. The apartment complex could be a front to hide him.”
They also identify the apartment manager, Gordon Fisher, as a person of extreme interest. He oversees everything at the complex, including Millenial Housing. He lives at the complex himself.
Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, Tuesday May 17th, 3 PM
“Tell me about your feelings,” Sorensosn begins.
“Before all of this began happening, I guess I was peaceful. I was always cautioning us not to rush into things. I’ve been slipping more and more where my first thought is violence. Maybe I’m being paranoid, maybe I’m not. Its wrong that I’m shooting first. But these things are bad they are trying to hurt us. I’m just not sure if that’s me anymore or what.”
Sorenson tries to get him started on deep breathing exercises but Robert objects. “How is deep breathing going to help me with my problems? My problems are that I think people are trying to kill me.”
Sorenson tells him he has other options than shooting in a conflict. He also advises him to get a tazer instead of a gun.
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Thursday May 19th, 5 PM
The Keystone report arrives. There are some sightings dating back to 1970s, but activity went way up in the 90s.
As Shaw is looking over this, her phone rings. “Hello?”
A distorted voice replies, “you are looking into what is happening with Millennial Housing. I can save you some time.”
“Alright,” she says turning on the recorder.
“This may be hard for you to understand,” the caller cautions.
“I’ll try to wrap my mind around it,” She says sarcastically.
“Ambrose was continuing the work that Moorcock started at Hillcrest. He developed a device to tap into people’s minds. A computer for sifting through their thoughts. He found things there.”
“In the subconscious?” Shaw asks.
“Yes. Things like…well you’ve seen some of the fruits of that labor.”
“Are the machines still there?” She asks.
“Yes,” says the voice of who could only be Infinity.
“At the house or the apartment?”
“Somewhere in the apartment complex,” Infinity explains.
“Why haven’t you acted on this information?” Shaw asks suspiciously.
“It might take a bit of time and investigation. I’m not the best with dealing with people,” Infinity admits.
Infinity hesitates. “Let’s just say if you can find out what he found there, I’ll let you know.”
“Alright. Do you know if there is any further danger there than we encountered before?”
“I’m not really sure. Its possible though it will attract Dr. Warden.”
“Is there a way to neutralize him?” Shaw asks.
“I think the vials of BSNX-7 you have should protect you. It should limit his effects on you.”
“That’s good to know. Are you still monitoring all my calls?”
“No,” Infinity answers though Shaw doesn’t believe him.
After the call. she calls in Robert Mill and let’s him know. They plan to investigate Mr. Fisher and stakeout the apartment.