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Session of 9/4/16 -- Doing the Right Thing
June 11-16, 2001

Godfrey Stax was at his desk eating his lunch when the phone rang. He instinctively reached for for the handset on his desk, as he had been doing for the last twenty-nine years, but it wasn’t the desktop handset that was ringing. It was the small, plastic, and excessively complex Finnish made device called a Nokia 9210 that had recently taken up residence in his pocket. Stax had resisted the incursion for as long as he could, but pressure from his office, his daughter, and finally his associates finally wore him down and he ultimately relented and accepted the high tech gadget when Kurt had proffered it. Stax frowned while moving his large fingers among the tiny buttons and managed to answer the call without disconnecting it.

“Stax,” he answered.

“Marshall? You may not remember me, but we met in San Bernardino last fall…” It was Tmea Jackson on the line, the whip-sharp investigator for the Forest Service who had helped he and Kevorkian deal with the ‘Mr. Hews situation’ the November before. She reminded him that, “...you told me to call you if I ever encountered anything… unnatural. Well, it seems I have.”

The girl was currently assigned to the Organ Pipes National Park in southern Arizona. On a routine patrol earlier in the day she had come across a pack of coyotes that had huge chunks taken out of them and a strange orange foamy substance eating away at their wounds. Since nothing larger than a puma should be anywhere near that part of nowhere, and since there had been some very strange tracks at the scene, she decided she should call and report what she had encountered. Stax wasn’t sure that what the girl saw rose to the level of green activity, but he was absolutely sure that there was nothing interesting on his desk at the moment, so told he told her that he would come out and take a look.

He grabbed a road atlas from a desk drawer and found Organ Pipes. It was truly in the middle of nowhere, and he figured it would take him better than four hours to get there -- six, if you included packing a bag. He told Tmea that he would meet her the following morning at a local diner in the nearby town of Ajo, and then he hung up and dialed Kurt. Instead of using his normal long distance carrier, he began his call with a series of numbers that engaged a different communications company. After he heard the cheerful tone and the canned voice say “Remote Data,” he dialed Kurt's number. Somewhere in the Cayman Islands, a secure server routed his call quite anonymously and Kurt answered. He agreed to meet Stax in Ajo, and he hung up to get Kevorkian on the phone. He must not have been able to, since the next morning it was only Kurt, Stax and the girl at the table. After a quick trip to the local K-Mart to buy a backpack, sunscreen, a box of powerbars and several cases of bottled water, the three piled into the Forest Service jeep and headed out into the desert.

The park was stunning. The sky was perfectly blue with only the smallest puffs of cloud hanging near the tops of the jagged rock formations. The flats were anything but, being completely covered in all manner of thorny cactus plants of every variety from low clinging prickly pears to the soaring organ pipe cactus plants for which the park was named. Stax didn’t know much about the desert, but he knew quite a bit about traveling in hot weather. In Vietnam there had been two kinds of soldiers -- the ones who carried enough water and the ones who wished they had. According to a tourist brochure he had picked up, the average high temperature in Organ Pipes in June was 102F. It was a dry heat, but in the unrelenting sun they would each need over a half gallon of water per day each to stay active, and almost twice that amount to remain comfortable. For an average person six sixteen ounce bottles would be enough, for a big guy like himself Stax figured eight was more like it. Rather than doing the math, Stax decided to just shove as many bottles as he could into the pack and ended up carrying about 14 bottles. In a hot environment no one ever complained about having too much water.

It didn’t take long to get to the spot where Tmea had found the coyote pack. She had discovered it because the coyotes were right alongside one of the forest service trails which criss cross almost all federal land. When she stopped the jeep they could see no sign of the mangled pack, and Stax stood up on the back seat of the jeep and scanned the surrounding with the small pair of binoculars he habitually carried. He saw no sign of coyotes, but on a distant ridgeline he saw a large shape moving out of view. From the size of the rocks it had clambered across, it looked to have been at least the size of a bison, if not larger.

Stax took a reading on his compass and marked a spot on his map where he thought the creature had been. Then he put the map back into his pocket and he climbed out of the jeep. The tracks were fairly clear to read but the story they told was unusual. Something large with cloven hooves had come by this way. The coyote pack had seen whatever it was as prey and had moved in and attacked. But the attack didn’t go well and only a few of the coyotes got away. The large thing had lumbered away and most of the coyote tracks just ended in the spots where Tmea had seen the mutilated pack the day before. There was no sign of any injured coyote leaving, and no sign whatever of any predators or scavengers cleaning up the carcasses… so where were the coyotes? All that was left were some greasy spots on the ground. Tmea, a forensic specialist, looked carefully but found no trace evidence at all, not a single hair or drop of blood. She took a sample of one of the greasy marks, probably from routine as much as anything else, but there was literally not a trace of anything else to be found.

The three got in the jeep and moved on to examine the area where Stax had seen the behemoth from the road. It was tough going, but they got the jeep somewhat close to the ridge and they found the tracks easily enough, but after a very hot hour following the trail on foot, their quarry crossed a patch of ground too rocky to take prints and the trail was lost. They spent some time under the midday sun trying to find the trail again, but to no avail. Dejectedly, the three returned to Tmea’s jeep, drank lots of water, and were planning their next move when a call came over the Park Service radio.

A woman had gone missing within the park, and Tmea had been investigating the disappearance when she had come upon the mutilated coyotes and called Stax for help. The missing woman’s name was Kate Draper, and in the intervening time the Forest Service office had put together a list of campsites that she had reserved for her visit. Now that she had something to go on, Tmea was anxious to get back to looking for the lost woman, and this suited Kurt and Stax as well since the disappearance was not likely to be a coincidence.

With the itinerary, it didn’t take Tmea long to find the woman’s car, and it took Kurt even less time to open it. The outside of the car was dusted with what looked to be two or three days of grime. Inside, they found the woman’s camping gear which meant that Ms. Draper had left without supplies, which meant that she had meant to return to the car. Since very few people could survive two or three days in the Sonoran Desert in summertime without supplies, Stax knew there wasn’t likely to be a happy ending to this particular missing person story.

Inside the woman’s car, Kurt found a Lonely Planet guidebook, an Apache-English phrasebook, some xeroxes and a notebook. One of the xeroxes was a torn page with two peculiar stick figures which looked like native totems. The second was a copy of an article about the Apache legend of the Baykok, a boogeyman in the form of an animated skeleton with glowing eyes and rattling bones. From her notes, it seemed that Draper thought that recent missing persons and local cattle mutilations had something to do with Apache Brujo witch doctors and the legend of the Baykok. The thing Stax had seen didn’t even remotely resemble a rattling skeleton with glowing eyes, but he had to give the missing woman points for tinfoil hat creativity.

Draper’s notes said that she was supposed to meet with a local Brujo a few days earlier, which was probably the day she went missing. Since she left on foot and without her backpack and gear, the meeting location was probably close. Once again, the three investigators loaded up on bottled water and powerbars, and they followed Draper’s tracks into the desert. Her trail led up into the rocks and foothills, and the going was very tough. Stax was embarrassed to call for a break after their first hour on the trail but was relieved when it was his younger comrades that called for the breaks after the second and third hours on the gruelling path. He felt like he was just hitting his stride when the trail turned and entered a sheltered canyon.

There they found Ms. Draper, or what was left of her. The woman had been stripped bare and laid out spread-eagle on the canyon floor. Ligature marks on her wrists and ankles showed that she was alive and resisting when she was tied down, and in her flesh there had been carved a number of symbols including crescents and stars like a grotesque parody of the night sky. Stax had seen too many corpses to count in his military and police careers, so his horror was purely internal. Tmea fared less well, turning a shade of ashen gray at the grisly sight. Kurt passed out.

That he feinted was understandable, the woman had what appeared to have an enormous bite taken out of her midsection that had basically removed all the flesh between the bottom of her ribcage and her mid thighs. Her lower spine, pelvis, and thigh bones were clearly visible and a sickly orange foam dripped from the margins of the wound. It was as bad as anything Stax had seen, but he still worried about Kurt; the man was starting to look like some of the shell shocked marines he had known in Vietnam, one shock away from losing it all. Once they had Kurt back on his feet, Tmea confirmed that this matched what she had seen among the mutilated coyotes.

Stax looked around for tracks, but they all seemed confusing to the normally competent tracker. Perhaps he wasn’t as inured to this sort of gore as he supposed, or maybe the sun was starting to get to him. Regardless, Stax was pretty sure that he had messed up the prints in his attempt to read the story of the crime scene and all he was able to tell about what happened was that some time afterward, a pair of hikers had come across the body. Wiping the sweat from his forehead, Stax was beginning to wonder whether he was indeed getting too old for this sort of thing when he heard the distant sound of an approaching helicopter.

It was the Arizona State Police. Despite Stax and Kurt doing their best to make themselves scarce, they were spotted and ordered to put their hands up. Getting caught by local yocals was somewhat embarrassing, especially when Stax wasn’t able talk his way out of showing his ID, but it couldn’t be helped. After a lengthy delay he and Kurt were ultimately able to ‘federal investigation’ their way out of any serious difficulties, but the embarrassment lingered long after the locals let them go on their way.

On the three hour trek back to Tmea’s jeep, they once again took several rest breaks. Stax was glad he had carried ‘too much’ water, since they were going through it at an alarming rate. On one of the breaks, they looked at Draper’s notes once again and noticed that the way her body had been laid out matched a partial diagram she had right down to the two dots on her left foot. They also found a notation for her to call Stan Arnold at the GPCA, which Stax knew from the Discovery Channel was the Great Plains Cruciform Array, a radio observatory located somewhere in Kansas or Nebraska. When they finally got close enough to the road for cellular reception, the group made several phone calls. Tmea called in a report to her superior officer while Stax and Kurt helped her massage the narrative by giving her hints from over her shoulder. Kurt called in to J-cell gave a summary of their activities and reported that the star symbols carved in the corpse reminded him of something Stax was unfamiliar with called a Nyarlathotep. And Stax, using the alias of DIA Agent Uumellmahaye, talked to the radio astronomer at the GPCA.

Arnold bought the DIA bit hook line and sinker and told Stax that Draper had been interested in a star cluster that she believed related to local native folklore. The specific cluster she asked about had five visible stars in a pentagonal array with a sixth at their center which was far too faint to see with the unaided eye. The interesting thing was that the natives knew about the faint star. Although he was no astronomer, Stax took down the coordinates of the stars because he was pretty sure that this is what you were supposed to do and that it might seem odd if he didn’t ask. After he hung up, he related the information to Tmea and Kurt, and the latter seemed to think that a pentagonal star pattern had to do with the same Nyarlathotep creature that he had mentioned earlier.

Stax didn’t know much about folklore and rituals, but the mention of the stars being arranged in a pentagonal in shape got him thinking… He took out the torn photocopy of the two totem-like figures they had found with Draper’s notes and noted that the figures shown seemed to be arranged like two points of a pentagon. He then thought back to the murder scene and remembered that Draper’s body had been oriented in an exact north-south orientation which would make her the second apex going clockwise from the top. If he was correct, then travelling from where she had been killed on a heading of 018 should bring them to another body with one dot on its wrist. Since they had no idea how long the sides of the pentagon were, they would need to search from the air.

The next morning, Kurt, Stax and the girl went to a local civilian airfield and hired a private plane. The aircraft was a four seat CH801 and it was pretty much ideal for their purposes. At a cruising speed of around 100 knots, they got to the site of Ms. Draper’s murder with a half hour. To test Stax’ theory, they headed off on his 018 heading at a slow cruise of only 50 knots, scanning the ground with three sets of binoculars. A little over 20 minutes into their flight, they crossed into indian territory and flew over the remnants of an older crime scene -- which had to be the first clockwise apex. The pilot confirmed that an Indian boy had been found mutilated on that spot around six days earlier and the investigators later learned that the victim was disfigured in a manner similar to Ms. Draper and that the body had a single spot on its left hand.

Now that they knew the length of the pentagon’s sides (roughly 20 miles) they left the airspace over the old crime scene and swung left by 72 degrees to a heading of 306, flew for 20 miles… and found nothing. From the spot where they should have found something they again turned left 72 more degrees, and flew another 20 miles on a heading of 234 degrees, and once again they found nothing. Right about the time when everyone was becoming convinced that Stax’ theory was wrong, they swung left to a heading of 162 and found human remains staked out on the desert hardpan.

The pilot set the plane down on a nearby flat and the four examined the body. It was a male that had been very recently killed. It had the same sort of grievous injury as that suffered by the coyotes, Ms. Draper, and presumably the Indian boy, and it had the same sort of symbols carved into it as had Ms. Draper. By its right foot were three dots, and suddenly all three of the investigators realized why they found nothing at the 10-o’clock and 12-o’clock apices… because the 4th and 5th victims hadn’t been killed yet. As they examined the crime scene, Tmea noticed that the blood from some of the wounds hadn’t clotted yet, which made the crime less than an hour old. Stax took out his binoculars and scanned the horizon. In the distance he saw a lone Indian walking directly away from them in the far distance, perhaps a mile or more away. He was getting near the rocky ground and Stax knew they couldn’t catch a native on foot in the desert, and that by the time they hiked back to the flats where the plane was parked the guy would have reached the rocks and would be all but invisible from the air.

When the pilot heard about their discovery of the body, he wanted to call it in. It took a few minutes, but the investigators finally got him to realize that the body was in the National Park, and that he had an actual National Park Service police officer in the plane with him. The pilot wasn’t very bright, but he got the three back to the airport safely, so he was OK in Stax’ book.

The murders had occurred at three day intervals and they were following the apices of the pentagon in a counterclockwise direction, so the investigators knew exactly when and where the next incident would take place. Whatever it was that was taking the bites out of the victims was very large, as was the creature that Stax had seen in the distance, so Stax wanted a rifle capable of killing something big -- preferably a Barrett or something in a .338 Lapua if no .50 cal rifles were available. What Delta Green provided instead was a note asking him to buy whatever he needed locally and instructions to go to Phoenix and convince the Arizona State Police to turn over all of Draper’s case files and evidence, which was significantly less helpful than a Barrett. There were no Barretts to be found in Ajo. Instead Stax had to content himself with a .300 RUM hunting rifle with a very nice low-light scope. He knew that the rifle would take an elk at 700 yards, or a bison at closer range, but he was far less certain about what it would do to a larger creature -- he knew people didn’t hunt elephants or rhinos with .30 caliber rifles, no matter how powerful the loading, at least not on purpose.

Phoenix went more smoothly than Stax had expected. Since they had Stax’ real name from the encounter in the desert, Kurt went in alone to seize the documents. His path had been paved by the ‘parallel investigation’ mumbo-jumbo he had fed the police two days earlier in the Sonoran Desert, and local police are kind of used to having to turn over their stuff to the feds, so no one really fought him when he demanded everything they had. Of course this mean that his John Roberts identity was now trashed, but Stax knew that Kurt changed his name as frequently as most people change their minds, so it probably wasn’t much of a loss.

The next day the three bought some radios, some desert camouflage gear, and other necessities to set up an ambush, and then travelled to the expected site of the fourth murder. By the time they had everything planned out, it was getting near to sunset, so the three decided to spend the night in the field. The night was cold, but they had the proper gear for it and in the morning they were ready to ambush the murderer that had been summoning the gigantic beasts. If they were lucky, they could stop the ritual killing before one of the buggers came to his call.

Not long after dawn, a man and a woman approached the site on foot. The man looked somewhat like the figure he had seen in the distance three days before, but given the range he couldn’t be certain. What was unusual, was that the woman was casually walking at his side. In fact, when they got closer, Stax could see that the young woman was carrying the rope and stakes while casually talking with the man. From the time they were within 400 yards, Stax had been tracking them with his riflescope and as the two approached Kurt gave him the play-by-play. The pair stopped pretty much where the investigators thought they would, fifty or sixty yards from where Kurt and Tmea waited in cover and maybe 250 yards from where Stax had set up his firing position.

When the two stopped, the older man, most likely a tribal Brujo, looked at the sun as if to judge the time, and the woman began pounding the stakes into the ground with a hammer she had been carrying on her belt. When the fifth stake was in, she laid down on the ground and spread her arms out so that the Brujo could begin to tie her up. This must have been enough for Kurt because the command to “take him,” came crackling over Stax’ earpiece. Stax tried to remember his training from the USMC Scout Sniper School in Quantico. He had managed to keep his breathing calm and regular for the whole time since he started following the targets through his scope, but adrenalin kept playing havoc with his heartbeat. Nevertheless, when the order came through he took up the slack in his trigger, waited for the pause between heartbeats, and let his round fly. It was a miss. For half a second, everyone was frozen. Stax was frozen with disbelief; the Brujo was frozen by the crack of a bullet that had passed close enough to his head to move his hair, and the woman was frozen by simple disbelief. Then Stax regained his senses, but instead of once again going through the USMC procedure for long distance shooting, he told himself “fuck it, that was too long ago and I know how to shoot a damned rifle.” He worked the bolt quickly, lined up his shot, and put his next round into the right shoulder of the Brujo. The witch doctor dropped his curved knife, fell to the ground and grabbed the bleeding wound.

“First target down,” Stax chirped over the radio. He scanned the horizon for signs of an approaching beast, but there was none to be seen. With assistance from Kurt, Tmea cuffed the Brujo and began untying the intended victim. The woman explained that she was a volunteer and the man was claiming that the killings were somehow necessary.

Stax could hear much of the exchange from his vantage point and could see what was going on through his telescopic sight. What struck him was the apparent earnestness in the Brujo’s eyes, but then again many fanatical murderers think that what they’re doing serves some sort of greater purpose. He saw the man mouth, “you don’t know what you’ve done” to Kurt.

“Was Ms. Draper a volunteer, too?” Kurt asked the Brujo.

When the Brujo responded, “no, she was going to try to stop us,” Kurt kicked him hard in his wound and walked away.

It was decided that Stax, having no fake ID papers, would stay away and that Tmea’s report would have John Roberts as the rifleman. The ID was already blown, so why not? Since the man wasn’t denying anything, the case was unlikely to go to court, so there would be no need to look further into the mysterious federal agent. Tmea get a big arrest, the killings stop, and no official blowback beyond Kurt needing to wizard up some new papers. Win, win, win.

That afternoon, when Kurt and Stax were having a beer in what passed for a sports bar in Ajo, Arizona, Stax couldn’t help but wonder whether they had really solved the case at all. They stopped the guy that was feeding people to the monster, but the thing was still out there wandering around in the desert. And Stax couldn’t get that strangely earnest look on the Brujo’s face out of his head. “You don’t know what you’ve done,” the man had said. And Stax was beginning to think that they didn’t really know what they had done.

“Damn it,” Stax said, finishing his beer. “Kurt, do me a favor and call J-cell and get me some decent fake credentials. I’m going to find out what hospital they took the witch doctor to and see if I can’t get him to explain what the fuck he thought he was doing.”
Session: Game Session - Sunday, Sep 04 2016 from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Tags: Kilroy , Writeup
Session of 8/20/16 -- The Troublesome Mr. Hews
November 8, 2000

It was midday Wednesday and Stax was at his desk reading what passed for a newspaper in Las Vegas. Unsurprisingly, the banner headline was about the election; it was unequivocal, George W, Bush had just been elected President by a slim but definitive margin. The smaller headlines further down the page noted that Gore hadn’t conceded, and that the margin wasn’t quite as definitive as some were saying, and that there were some irregularities in how the votes were counted, and that Florida was close enough that Gore might ask for a recount… but to Stax all of these seemed like reporters trying to fill pages. What were the odds that a presidential election would actually be contested? When he was a kid Kennedy had cheated Nixon out of the presidency and even Nixon had the class to concede. Did Gore really want to be remembered as the guy less classy than Nixon?

Of course Stryker couldn’t let it alone. He was standing by the coffeepot offering up his opinion about how there would definitely be a recount and about how the Florida thing, and thus the whole election, was about to get really messy. Stax didn’t necessarily disagree, but he wanted to read about it first. Stax knew that he wouldn’t get the chance to read his paper in peace as long as his friend was holding court, so he surrendered, folded the newspaper, looked over the top of his reading glasses and asked the younger man, “don’t you SOG guys have your own coffee?” which is how their office conversations often started.

Stryker was good people. Stax had met him on the pistol range and the guy could actually shoot. He was in his mid thirties and a team leader in the Special Operations Group, which was the serious combat arm of the Marshal Service. They’re the guys who put on a lot of black body armor and kick down the doors when there are lots of bad guys with guns that need to be taken down. Just a few days earlier, right after that asteroid movie with Bruce Willis was on cable, Stax and Stryker had had a long conversation about what they would do if the shit was ever really going down -- like an asteroid causing the collapse of society or a zombie apocalypse. It was then that Stax decided he might try to bring Stryker into the conspiracy.

The kid trained hundreds of hours a month to be the tip of the law enforcement spear, a combat-ready machine, but the SOG hardly ever got to see real action and Stryker clearly wanted to see action. So when Stax got a call from Dr. Kevorkian, who asked him to get to San Bernadino California as soon as possible, Stax asked his younger colleague if he wanted to come on an “off the books” operation that could be very dangerous. It was like waving meat in front of a starving lion. The kid was in. Stax told him to pack a bag with all the stuff he might need for “any eventuality” and to meet him in the parking lot at 2:30. Stryker was there with an enormous duffel bag fifteen minutes early.

On the drive to California, Stax explained that Stryker was most likely going to get a chance to help put a stop to some very bad things, that it would all be “off the books,” and that they had no real legal authority to do what they would be doing. All of this seemed to excite the younger Deputy Marshal. “And if you do well, and keep your mouth shut afterward, you’ll get the chance to help out with more operations,” Stax told him. “What we have today,” Stax explained, “is some sort of strange disease that has my friends worried enough to have us drive to Vegas to take a look. Dr. Kevorkian -- no relation -- will explain it to use when we get there. The doc knows his stuff, though, and if he’s called me it means there will probably be action.”

When they arrived at the hospital in California, Kevorkian was waiting for them in the parking lot. Kevorkian was in his late thirties, he wore eyeglasses and could best be described as pale, somewhat doughy, and very “doctor like.” With him was a tall young woman in the traditional field uniform of a forest ranger. Since she had a pistol on her belt, so she was probably an LE&I (Law Enforcement and Investigations) investigator. Kevorkian told them that she had found the first victim, and then, seeing the confused looks on Stax’ and Stryker’s faces, held up a hand and started at the beginning.

The doctor explained that he had been called to the scene when a patient at the San Bernardino hospital had shown up with signs of an extremely virulent infection. The infected man, later identified as Mitchell Hews, a surveyor working for a local construction company, had suffered some sort of animal attack near a construction site at the edge of the San Bernardino National Forest. He had been brought to the hospital by the young Ranger, who had been at the scene investigating a missing child. The disease was unlike any Kevorkian had seen before, so strange, in fact, that he was certain it was of unnatural origin. The disease seemed to be disconnecting the bonds between the victim’s cells and transforming the organs into a gelatinous mass, almost like as it it was turning the host into a giant slug or jellyfish. Then, to make matters even stranger, the sick Mr. Hews had disappeared without a trace.

The ICU nurse who discovered the patient’s absence claimed to have seen a shape slither up the wall and crawl into the ductwork, and the dislodged ventilation grate didn’t exactly hurt her story. An examination of the room showed traces of a slime trail starting at the bed and going up the wall, so it seemed like the metamorphosis theorized by Kevorkian had actually taken place. As Stax shined his flashlight into the ductwork, his companion Stryker set his heavy duffel bag on the floor and unzipped it. From inside of it, Stryker removed what looked like an odd radio-controlled car like kids play with at the beach, but this one looked very high tech, with lights and cameras and a robot arm on it. He put the small machine right into the duct and started driving the thing around, seeing via a small LCD display on his radio controller.

Stryker searched the ducts for about a half hour, but found no trace of the missing guy or of any slime monster that the guy might have turned into. While Stryker was playing with his toy car, Stax walked around the perimeter of the hospital, but he saw no signs that anything slimy has wriggled out of an exhaust vent or any other way out. When Stax rejoined the others they decided to find out who was in charge of the hospital and get some plans of the ductwork. When they did so, they were asked if they were here about “the missing baby...”

A quick trip to the Nursery on the 2nd floor confirmed that something had dislodged a grate, left a slime trail, and had taken a baby. Apparently, the sick Mr. Hews had gotten hungry. And in his search for food he was willing to move up and down between floors. Stax tried to anticipate his next stop, so he headed down to the first floor and looked around the emergency room. All of the grates were in place, there were no slime trails, and no one was screaming about anyone being missing. While he was there, Kevorkian, the girl, and Stryker had gone down to the basement and looked at the morgue. There they found a dislodged grate, a slime trail, an empty gurnee and a blanket on the floor which indicated a missing body. Apparently Mr. Hews didn’t need his food to be all that fresh. While they took in the scene around them, they heard the sound of sheet metal flexing as something heavy in the ventilation system moved ponderously away from the morgue. Looking into the grate, they found the perfectly stripped skeleton of what had to be the missing infant. Apparently, whatever Mr. Hews had become didn’t digest calcium.

Kevorkian, the Ranger, and Stryker met Stax on the first floor and they found the hospital in a fresh uproar. A woman had been brought down to the ER after being attacked by a strange looking man on one of the upper floors of the hospital. She hadn’t gotten a very good look at the assailant, but she described strange melted features and a head squashed down between its shoulder blades as if he had no neck. The woman had run for it but had been scratched by one of its claws during her escape and now she was showing early signs of the same ailment that afflicted Mr. Hews. Kevorkian and Stax both knew they would have to monitor her progress -- if she was going to change it would be best to put her down before she got too far along.

As the three men discussed ways of finding the creature within the ductwork, the young park ranger, a girl in her early twenties named Temeya, became frustrated that no one was listening to her ideas, so she grabbed the hospital blueprints from Stax and while he and the other men argued she plotted out the locations of all the attacks. There was a clear point in the HVAC system that all of the attacks seemed to be radiating from, and it was a mechanical room on the 2nd floor. The four dashed up the stairs and found a quite ordinary looking door off of one of the patient corridors labeled “mechanical room.” From the blueprint they knew the room within was about ten feet square.

Stax took out a flashlight, drew his weapon, and made himself ready to enter. Stryker put some things from his duffel into his pockets, withdrew a 9mm automatic, and stood behind Stax ready to back him up. The ranger stood a step behind him and had her hand on the butt of her service pistol, ready to draw if necessary. At the side of the door, Kevorkian put his hand gently on the door handle and as Stax silently counted down 3-2-1 the doctor threw open the door. At the back of the small room stood what could only be described as a melted man. It was a corpulent, gelatinous figure with oversized arms and a small head. Stax had surprised the creature and without a moment of hesitation he discharged his magnum and struck the creature center-mass.

The massive hardcast bullet carried roughly 2,000 foot pounds of energy, which is sufficient to kill a charging Cape Buffalo, but when the projectile hit the creature it opened a massive crater in its chest which simply closed up afterward like he had thrown a potato into a bucket of pudding. Stax wasn’t sure that the facial contortion he saw was actually a smile, but the sentiment seemed the same, and he was sure that now was the time to be leaving. The creature had other ideas. It spread its massive, quivering arms outward as if to hug the detective and strode forward impossibly quickly in an attempt to envelop the Chief Inspector within its bulk. Stax was nimble for his age and he was able to duck under the foul embrace and back out of the room. From behind him he heard two rapid gunshots, which had no more effect than had his own, and then he heard a sound he knew well from his tours in Vietnam. It was the ping of a hand grenade spoon being released. Stryker bellowed “fire in the hole,” and tossed a grenade at the creature. As the four ran for the safety of the stairwell, the grenade embedded itself within the quivering flesh of the creature and detonated with a loud, but somewhat muffled, “crump!” A last glance from the safety of the stair showed that the grenade had done some damage to the creature, but that it hadn’t been killed.

A quick conference in the stairwell went over multiple possible ways to attack a thing that was immune to bullets and only somewhat inconvenienced by high explosives. Medical gasses were discussed, as were anaesthetics, but in the end Stryker’s insistence that one more grenade should do the job led them to decide to try finding the creature one more time. During their hurried conference in the stair, general pandemonium reigned throughout the hospital. There had been several gunshots and an explosion, so the panicking hospital staff were quick to believe the investigators when they told them that there were terrorists on the loose and that the hospital should be evacuated.

By listening at ducts they were able to follow the creature as it moved through the hidden passageways. At one point, they lost the sound trail, but when Stax pressed his ear to a grate to try and hear which way it had gone, Mr. Hews, who had been lying in wait, took a swipe at him from his hiding place within the duct. Stax managed to dodge the main force of the blow, but one of the creature’s claws caught him and cut a deep gouge above his left ear. As Stax moved away from the creature, Stryker yelled “run,” and pulled the pin from another grenade. He tossed it into the opening and everyone ran like hell. Not being within the creature, the grenade detonated with a very loud ‘bang!’ and the concussion must have broken some of the fire sprinklers because the system began to discharge water throughout the devastated section of hallway.

Seeing what a similar wound had done to Hews, Stax was pretty sure he was done for, but he had thought so several times when he had been in the jungle as well. He hadn’t been a medic, so he didn’t know all that much about first aid, but he did know that if you cut poisoned flesh away quickly enough you might live, so when the four got to the ER he took out his combat knife and began heating the blade over the flame of his lighter. When he raised his Ka-Bar to flense away the flesh covering his skull above his ear, Kevorkian grabbed his wrist and in his strange accent (something like a cross between Henry Kissinger and Ingmar Bergman) he advised, “before you start cutting pieces off of your head, do you mind if I take a look?” Within five minutes the doctor had cleaned and bandaged the wound, and pumped Stax full of antibiotics of every imaginable variety. Kevorkian was confident he had caught the infection in time and all Stax could do was hope he was right.

The four quickly decided that if the two grenades didn’t kill the gelatinous Mr. Hews, then nothing they had with them would, so they grabbed some doctors’ coats and stethoscopes, and slipped through the police cordon surrounding the hospital by pretending to be doctors fleeing the scene. Once they made it through they decided to meet the next morning and went their separate ways. The plan was to go to the National Park and see if they could find the “momma” creature -- the one that turned Hews into the homicidal blob he had become. Not wanting to leave credit card info behind by getting a hotel room, Stax and Stryker decided to get a few hours of shuteye in Stax’ aged Grand Wagoneer, but Stax needed to run a few quick errands first.

Earlier in the evening, as they were discussing ways of dealing with the monster, the idea of trying heat or cold had come up. Since bullets didn’t work and Stryker only had one grenade, Stax decided to see if he could remember enough of his Force Recon training to make themselves some improvised explosives. He and Stryker found an 24hr Target store and there they bought a cheap day pack, some hand towels, some fragile looking decorative bottles, a beanbag chair, a quart of motor oil, a pack of replacement wicks for backyard tiki torches, and a bottle of citronella oil. Across the street at a gas station they bought a gas can and two gallons of the expensive high octane gasoline.

In a dark parking lot behind an industrial building, Stax parked and he tossed an empty bottle against the precast concrete wall. It shattered easily. He then took the remaining bottles and poured about six ounces of motor oil into the bottom of each and then filled the bottles three fourths of the way to the top with gasoline. Taking his Ka-Bar knife from his boot, he cut open the beanbag chair and took out a large handful of the polystyrene pellet fill material and dropped them into the bottles. As the pellets dissolved, the gasoline-oil mixture thickened noticeably, with the gasoline taking on the consistency of a light syrup and the oil turning into a sticky but still quite flammable goo. He then screwed on the tops and wrapped the necks of the bottles with the tiki torch wicks which he would soak in citronella oil in the morning. He tossed everything he didn’t use on top of the beanbag chair remnants and tossed a lit book of matches on the pile before walking back to his car with his Molotov Cocktails. He carefully wrapped the bombs in the cheap hand towels and put them in the day pack.

November 9, 2000

The next morning the three men met at a chain pancake house, ate breakfast, and looked at the newspaper accounts of the “terrorist attack” at the San Bernardino hospital. Apparently, the second grenade did the job since there were no additional disappearances reported. In other news, an automatic recount of Florida voting districts had resulted in an even narrower margin for Bush. The Democrats were calling for a hand recount in four counties, but Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris said she would reject any revised totals which weren’t in her hands by the 14th -- a seemingly impossible task. There was talk of taking this to the courts. Stax couldn’t help acknowledging that Stryker had been right, the Florida thing was getting out of hand. After breakfast, Stax, Kevorkian and Stryker drove to the ranger station and picked up Temeya, who directed them to the spot where she initially found Mr. Hews, back when he was still human. She was in a bit of hot water with her boss over her overtime the night before at the hospital, and Stax knew his phone call to her boss, trying to smooth things over for her, had not worked as well as could be hoped.

From the spot Temeya brought them to there was still a visible slime trail through the grassy undergrowth, so the four had little trouble following it back to the construction site just outside the park. One at the site, the investigators found a newly dug trench, probably dug for a water or sewer main, that had a large canister sitting at the bottom of it. Stax had seen a cannister like that one before in a counter-terrorist exercise, it was a hazardous waste disposal container like the ones used by the department of energy to store radioactive waste. This one was unlike the others he had seen in a few important ways; first, it lacked any markings apart from a serial number, second, and perhaps more importantly, it had a huge hole torn in the side of it, most likely from whatever excavation equipment was used to dig the trench.

Stax borrowed Stryker’s cell phone (he realized that he would have to get one of those sooner or later) and he called the USMS Las Vegas field office. He got the most senior secretary on the line, a hyper efficient battleaxe called Madge that he had always got along with. He gave her the serial number and asked her to find out whatever she could about the cannister, but he asked he to do it under a false name because he wasn’t supposed to be in California at all. After he hung up, he used bluster and a few quick badge flips to clear out the construction site.

The slime trail terminated at a house that was about three quarters complete. Stax crept under the edge of the home and found a quivering, gelatinous mass at the center of the crawlspace. Seeing the size of the creature, and remembering how resistant to damage Mr. Hews had become, Stax began to doubt his supply of molotov cocktails would be sufficient -- so he stole one of the site fuel trucks and began pumping diesel fuel into the crawlspace until the gauge read 100 gallons dispensed. Then he and the others backed away to the limit of his throwing range and tossed the cocktails. The fireball was impressive. There was an initial ‘whump!’ as the cocktails ignited the fuel and a huge, oily black mushroom cloud began rising in lazy circles above the structure. Then, the flames started following the fuel trail back to the truck and there was an enormous explosion as the gasoline in the truck’s tank detonated.

The four ran like hell out of the construction site and into the woods. They didn’t stop until Kevorkian looked like he was about to drop. Stax reminded Temeya that nothing she saw could go into any official report, or be told to anyone at all -- not even other Federal agents who claimed that they were in the know. She was to trust no one other than Stax or Kevorkian. The ranger seemed to understand the gravity of the situation, if only because of the strangeness of it all.
Session: Game Session - Saturday, Aug 20 2016 from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Tags: Kilroy , Writeup
Session of 8/13/16 - Kilroy Was Here
May 27, 2000

I had been working out of the Las Vegas office of the US Marshal Service for almost half a year when my boss, Chief Deputy Marshal Martin Unger, called me into his office for a chat. Apparently he owed someone a favor and I was going to be the one to do it for him. Some FBI guys needed help locating a fugitive somewhere in the wilds of Western Colorado, and they apparently couldn’t do it themselves. Since I was in the middle of some extremely boring casework, I readily agreed to do him the favor… as long as I got class “A” vouchers for the trip. Unger agreed.

As a Chief Inspector with four years in grade, a GS-13-4 in government parlance, which is roughly equivalent to a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army or the Marine Corps, I already got much better travel vouchers than a regular Deputy Marshal. But “A” grade vouchers were generally reserved for Generals or other muckety mucks, and the best part was that since this was a non-cash travel reimbursement my ex wife would not get her 66% of it. My plan was simple; I would have to use the airline vouchers, but all of the hotel, meal, and rental car vouchers were going in my pocket for the next time I went out to California to see my daughters.

Unger wanted my on the next flight to Grand Junction Colorado, so I quickly went back to my apartment and packed an overnight bag. Since Colorado weather was unpredictable, I threw in some boots, an overcoat and a Stetson just to be on the safe side. I was glad I did, because my flight into Grand Junction was worse than anything I could remember -- and I could remember flying into some pretty hot LZs when I was young, stupid, and in-country. The thunderstorm was so bad that I thought the wings were going to break off the damned puddle jumper, but the pilot must have known his stuff, since we could all walk away from the landing.

Once inside the airport I paged my contact and ended up in an airport bar just as bad as you would expect in a place like Grand Junction. There were two men at the table when I walked up, each looking to be in their mid to late 30s. There was a doughy looking guy with glasses called Kevorkian (“no relation,” he had said) and a nervous looking guy called Kurt who, when I asked him if that was his first or last name, he said something unconvincing like ‘both.’

I asked the two for details regarding the fugitive I would be hunting and they explained that the guy they were looking for wasn’t “exactly” a fugitive, and there was no warrant, nor even a finding. I’m a cop, not a PI, and I don’t go looking for regular missing persons -- I find fugitives. I didn’t much care whether the President, the Pope, or even the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps was trying to find his missing buddy… unless the guy was a wanted man. Plus, these guys clearly weren’t FBI; when you spend 28 years as a cop you can tell a cop when you meet one. Maybe spooks, but not cops.

I would have left then and there, but the TV screen outside the airport bar listed every flight as cancelled, and if I walked out I would have to use one of my precious hotel vouchers, so instead I decided to take a ride to Hillston with the two and find out what was going on. The place was about 45 miles from Grand Junction, but the storm that had made my flight so interesting was still raging outside, so we had a tough time doing much more than 30 miles an hour on the mountain roads. Kurt was driving and Kevorkian was in the the front passenger seat, so I took the back of their rental Suburban since it gave me plenty of room to change. Since this was technically a fugitive apprehension, at least as far as my boss was concerned, I put on my lightweight kevlar, and put a tactical flashlight in my left pocket, an expanding baton in my right pocket, and a Ka-Bar in my boot. Since it was still raining like a sonofabitch, I pulled on my overcoat and put on my Stetson. And, since this thing was off the books, I left my service weapon in my bag.

The service weapon of the US Marshal Service was the Glock 22. There was nothing exactly wrong with the .40 caliber pistol, but its choice was the result of the government catering to the lowest common denominator. Since some Marshals couldn’t take a heavier caliber, then no one got one. However, the US Marshal Service allows officers to carry a backup weapon of their choice, which is usually something small that you can put in an ankle holster. My “backup” weapon was a Colt Anaconda revolver chambered for .454 Casull, which is the most powerful mass produced handgun cartridge in the world. The Colt is often my only weapon, since I like to keep my service Glock at the armorer’s for repairs; you don’t get written up for not using a gun when it is in the shop.

After we had been driving through the rain for nearly an hour, but before we got to Hillston, we saw the rollers of a Colorado State Police patrol car through the downpour. The vehicle was partially pulled off to the side of the road, and its driver’s door was open, but there was no sign of the patrolman. We decided to pull off and take a look, so we carefully pulled ahead of the cruiser and pulled to the side of the road. The scene looked suspicious as hell. Since I was the only one wearing foul weather gear, I volunteered to go out and take a look.

What I saw was that the passenger side window had been smashed inward by something either very big, or very strong, or both, and my first thought was a bear… but that didn’t really square itself with the rollers being on, unless police pull bears over in this part of the country. Regardless of what had done the smashing, things appeared to have gone very badly for the trooper. The inside of the vehicle had a large amount of blood pooling in the floorboards, and bullet holes showed the officer had fired a lot of rounds from within the vehicle. His mostly empty service weapon was lying on the ground below the open driver’s door and there was no sign of the trooper himself. But wherever he went, he wasn’t in good shape, because an average person walks around with about a gallon and a half of blood pumping around inside of them, and from the look of the cruiser floor, the officer had left better than half that behind.

Although I don’t remember doing so, I had drawn my revolver when I saw the blood and bullet holes. Taking that as a cue, Kurt and Kevorkian got out of the Suburban and braved the downpour to take a look. Kevorkian was unarmed and Kurt had one of those space-age plastic .22 automatics drawn, which was not FBI issue. The inside of the cruiser had what appeared to be claw marks near the broken window, and once Kevorkian saw them he pulled out a penlight and went into pure pointy-head mode. I’m a bit of an ameteur naturalist. I grew up in the country and I have seen Black and Grizzly bears in the flesh. Once, in Vietnam, I even saw a Bengal Tiger up close and personal. And what I haven’t seen in person, I’ve seen on TV. or read about in books… but despite knowing a thing or two about animals, I wasn’t in Kevorkian’s league. When I mentioned that the claw marks didn’t look like they came from a bear, Kevorkian started to show me half a dozen reasons why they couldn’t have come from a bear, or a mountain lion, or anything else that someone might find in North America -- including in zoos. Being smart enough to know when to be quiet, I shut my trap and let the expert do his work.

While Kevorkian puzzled over the claw marks, I circled the cruiser and looked for tracks. I am a fairly solid tracker, but the driving rain made finding anything nearly impossible. Giving up on that, Kurt and I then swept the area for any other signs of the trooper, or more likely his corpse, but we found nothing at all.There wasn’t much else to do; none of our cell phones could get a signal and the electrical interference from the thunderstorm made the police radio all but unusable, so we decided to head into town and find a telephone so we could let the local police know what had happened. Of course being in the mountains in the middle of the most severe storm any of had ever seen made even that short trip an adventure. The road we were on, State Route 34A, crossed a small ravine that normally has a trickle of water running in the bottom that the locals had optimistically named the Hillston River. However, give the mountains a few hours of deluge and the creek bed was overflowing and the bridge was awash. We should have turned back, but Kurt was insistent, and when I mentioned waiting until morning he simply gunned the engine and drove across. Surprisingly, we made it across.

We found ourselves driving down a pitch black version of Main Street USA. There were no lights on anywhere that we could see, so the storm must have cut the power. There were no people on the road, since few people would be dumb enough to try and drive during a storm that would make Noah shudder. The first business we came to was an old Sinclair gas station, but when we got out of the car to see if we could use the telephone we found yet another crime scene. It was much like the state police cruiser -- window smashed from the outside, blood splattered everywhere, and no dead bodies. We entered with weapons drawn and found the phone, but there was no dial tone.

I think it was at this point when I realized the shit was really going down. We all got back into the suburban and while Kurt and Kevorkian started to argue about whether to go to the police station first, or to the last known location of their missing guy. For my part, I pulled my revolver from its holster and checked the loads. While the FBI imposters argued, Kurt put the Suburban in gear and we started to slowly drive down the main drag looking for signs of life. We found the police station before we found the street, so the argument was solved. We pulled up right in front of the building and got out into the rain. As we approached the door, a shot rang out from inside, ricocheting off of the sidewalk in front of our feet. I took out my creds, shined my flashlight on them, and in my best sergeant’s voice told them that I was a federal agent and that they better damn well stop shooting and let us in. They did. I can be very convincing when the need arises.

Inside we found a town deputy and a handful of terrified civilians who thought we were they help they had called for. They were armed will all manner of civilian weaponry and they reported that there were monsters walking about with random numbers of limbs, each having random numbers of joints, but uniformly all bearing huge, razor-sharp claws. Despite their stories being obviously insane, I was inclined to believe them because of what I had seen in the state patrol car and at the gas station. While I was speaking to one of them, Kurt said he had seen one of the things pass by outside the window. When I raised an eyebrow in question, the doctor admitted that he had seen something as well but hadn’t spoken up because what he had seen was impossible. Once again, I checked the loads in my gun. One of the civilians, armed with a deer rifle, told me that bullets wouldn’t kill the things. I told the civilian that bullets operate under very simple rules of physics, and that physics always works. I hoped I was right, but I checked the Ka-Bar in my boot, just in case things got very up close and personal.

Having made our report about the abandoned State Police, and having advised the people to shelter in the jail, we left to go find the home of the missing guy -- one Garrett Russell. On our way out, I grabbed a local phone book and tore the map out so that we could find the place. Russell's house turned out to be only two and a half blocks away, but in the blackout and the unceasing rain, we missed the house twice before finally finding it. As we were deciding where to leave the Suburban, the brilliant flash of a lightning strike briefly illuminated the entire street. Not thirty feet away from us was a creature that looked like an oversized dog, except it was covered in jagged, glistening spikes of what looked like blood-drenched obsidian, and its maw was impossibly oversized with interlaced teeth resembling those of a giant piranha. When the flash subsided, I drew my revolver and waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, but by the time I could see the creature was gone. I turned to my companions and from the looks on their faces it was clear that we had all seen the same thing.

We left the car running and dashed across to the house. The door was broken open and the picture window had been smashed. We cleared each room on the ground floor, and in doing so Kurt and Kevorkian once again proved that they had no FBI training. That said, they caught on fast and the previously weaponless Kevorkian was even sporting a 12-gauge shotgun that he had picked up at the police department. The ground floor search ended up in the kitchen, which reeked strongly of chemicals. Looking around, I saw that the kitchen table was covered with jars of various liquids and bags of various powders. A second glance revealed a stack of pre-made Molotov Cocktails and pipe bombs. This guy Russell had been expecting trouble.

Just then a large shape crashed in from the outside. It charged through the darkened house into the parlor on its way to where we were standing in the kitchen. The thing was horrifying, worse than the spiked dog, if that was possible. It had an oddly shaped head, almost like that of a flattened frog, and its six limbs featured a combination of bonelessness and knobby multiple joints. I drew my revolver and I could see that Kurt wanted to tell me something, but there was no time since the thing was almost on top of us. I fired.

A .454 Casull throws a very large projectile very fast. My .454 was loaded with Cor-Bon penetrating ammunition, which was designed to kill dangerous game like Grizzlys. It launches a massive 3/4 ounce copper-clad hard-cast slug at one and a half times the speed of sound, resulting in an impact over five times more powerful than an Army .45 ACP. When the bullet struck the monstrosity, it blew out the back half its torso and the creature dropped instantly. Physics; nothing is immune to it. However, to propel a slug that heavy forward at such high velocities, an enormous powder charge is required, creating a literally stunning boom and sending gouts of flame six inches out the end of the barrel. It was as I saw the muzzle flash that I realized what Kurt had been trying to say. I was pretty sure it had something to do with not discharging a firearm in a room full of volatile fumes and various explosives. Simple chemistry tells us that in the presence of oxygen, volatile compounds will ignite if exposed to open flames, like the muzzle flash of a large handgun, and chemistry is as uncaring as physics.

Luckily, chemistry did not make us pay the bar tab for my use of physics, and the room didn’t explode. We left the powder keg went upstairs to clear the rest of the house. As we searched, Kurt finally decided to come clean… or as clean as he could right then. Kurt admitted he wasn’t FBI, but said that he worked for “another agency.” Russell was a contact of his that was an ex FBI Special Agent now working as a PI. He had been hired by the Smithsonian to recover a stolen ancient crystal artifact of some sort, and he had tracked its thief, a woman named Caddie Byrnes, all the way to Hillston. In doing so, he discovered some sort of plot to use the crystal to end the world. I don’t normally go for stories about magic and crystals and such, but when I have to fight off monsters in the middle of a blood-spattered town while the storm of the millennium rages overhead I tend to become more flexible in my thinking. I’ve always said, there is some strange shit in this world and the pointy heads can’t explain the half of it.

We took the all of the pipe bombs, most of the Molotov Cocktails, and Russell’s notes and headed out to the car. As we left the house, it took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the pelting raindrops and the utter darkness. I started to jog toward the SUV when I saw Kurt aim his handgun into the darkness and behind me I heard the familiar shuck-shuck sound of Kevorkian readying his borrowed shotgun. Then I saw them. Four of the mutants were surrounding us. Two ran at the doctor, one at me, and one at Kurt, and damn they were fast.

I am a big guy, I’m fifty one years old and I took a couple of legfuls of shrapnel in Vietnam, so I am not exactly fleet of foot. But even when I was at my fastest as a young linebacker at Roosevelt High I couldn’t have gotten away from something that fast. So I stopped jogging, drew my gun, and made ready to kill a few before they got me. There was one of the creatures grabbing at the doctor’s waist, so I aimed at him first… but when I saw a prehensile tongue slither out of a sideways mouth I just froze. Thankfully, while I was busy letting down the team, Kurt picked up the slack and put a couple of rounds into the thing, and the noise of the reports snapped my out of my doldrums. So I put some lead downrange and got one of the bastards. Then I did the sensible thing and ran to the SUV and got in it. The other two jumped in the car just as I was ready to roll and I didn’t even wait to shut the doors before slamming the gearshift into drive and stepping on the gas.

As the Suburban lurched forward, we all heard a loud thump as one of the mutants jumped onto the roof of the car. I swerved left and right, but the creature managed to stay on the roof. Kurt and Kevorkian started taking blind shots through the top of the SUV, which pretty much deafened all of us. Not having any better ideas, I slammed on the brakes and the thing rolled down the hood. When it hit the ground, I punched the accelerator and we all felt a satisfying crunch as three tons of american steel rolled over the sonovabitch. As I drove blindly down the suburban streets, Kurt and Kevorkian looked at our map and guided me to Caddie Byrnes’ home. The journey of four blocks took almost twenty minutes as it was getting nearly impossible to see anything at all. When we arrived, we couldn’t leave the Suburban running, since the gas gauge was starting to get low.

At Caddie Byrne’s home we found notes that proved she had done more than steal a crystal tchotchke from a museum; she had gone completely insane. Her plan was to use the crystal at a convergence of ley-lines at an abandoned mine to summon a creature called Ubbo-Sathla, who would then destroy the world. The how-to directions for doing so were in an old book called the Book of Eidon, which Kurt had in his arms. Kevorkian and I had her ley-line map, and the now soggy telephone book map, and we thought we could find the mine -- perhaps even in time -- so we gathered everything up and dashed back out into the storm.

By Kurt’s calculations, we had between half an hour and an hour and a half to save the world, and the abandoned mine was about a half hour away, so we had exactly zero time to waste. Once again, I was driving I drove the Suburban blindly through the driving rain while Kevorkian used the maps to guide us. This time, instead of helping Kevorkian with the navigation, Kurt was furiously flipping through the ancient book trying to figure out how to stop Caddie from doing whatever she was doing. One thing was clear to all of us: the storm, the monsters, and all the rest of this shit going down was her handiwork, and if she was right it was going to get worse once she was done. We had to stop it.

We barreled through the mine’s entrance gate and stopped the big SUV next to a shack which served as some sort of visitors’ center. When we did so, a drenched man came out of the small building. I drew my weapon, but Kurt held up his hand to stop me and explained that this was Garrett Russell. Russell explained that Caddie had already summoned the thing, and that the big monster was the source of all of the smaller ones that had been killing everyone in town. He was upset that we hadn’t brought all of his explosives, but when I reminded him that a big fuel tank like the one in the Suburban was worth a couple dozen sticks of dynamite he realized that we probably did have enough to seal the mine -- as long as there wasn’t another way out.

In order to fit the big SUV into the tunnel, we had to take a bit of a running start. But, at the expense of Detroit bodywork, we got the vehicle wedge in the entrance well. With the windshield smashed out, we could go in and out by climbing through the car and Kurt, Kevorkian and I all stood guard while Russell did his demolitions magic. Seeing him work reminded me of what I had been taught in the Corps, and I made a note to myself to renew my acquaintance with high explosives. As Russell was finishing up, a huge, gelatinous creature oozed up from the lower tunnels at what should have been an impossible speed. As it came at us, it spawned more and more mutants out of pustulent growths covering its formless body. Seeing an eye briefly form in one of the empty sockets, I fired my revolver twice and struck the thing soundly. I don’t think I actually injured whatever it was, but it did retreat momentarily. I took that opportunity to turn and flee. Russells fuse was down to almost nothing and the others had all cleared the tunnel entrance, so I ran as fast as my old legs would carry me.

Not ten paces from the wrecked SUV I felt myself being lifted from my feet by a massive shockwave and I felt my hair singeing as I was thrown through the air. I hadn’t been blown up since 1969, but some things you never forget and slamming into the ground was every bit as painful as I remember. At least this time I didn’t have willy pete fragments burning my legs, and I had landed in a patch of muddy ground which left me more-or-less unharmed.

I turned back toward the tunnel entrance, not knowing whether I would see a herd of mutants bearing down on me or a successfully sealed entrance. But, for some reason, I felt that my luck had held, and when I opened my eyes I saw that it had. The mine was sealed. Kurt and Kevorkian helped me to my feet and we all left in Russell’s car. It was some time later when Kurt and Kevorkian explained that this hadn’t been the only threat of this kind, and that there were people who banded together and fought this sort of thing.

When we drove past the Colorado State Police cruiser, we stopped and I picked up the note I had left, because the organization I had just joined required secrecy from its members and there was no reason to leave evidence behind. By the time we got back to Grand Junction, I had chosen Kilroy as my new nom de guerre, because I had been there.
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Tags: Kilroy , Writeup
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