Annie called Irma and told her that she’d catch up with her tomorrow morning. She held a stack of Robert Pattonson DVDs and went to the couch to hunker down for a ‘girls’ night with Rita and a big bowl of popcorn. The knock on the door interrupted the opening credits. It was Biff, coming over to see how the girls were doing. Rita wasn’t having any of it, but let Biff in just to be nice. ‘You’re out of here by ten buster.’ She told him as they walked up the stairs.
Having survived the sparkly vampire story, Biff got up to leave. Annie told Rita that she’d walk him down and lock up. When they got to the bottom of the stairs, they decided to investigate the curio shop. They looked around at the junk on the shelves. The first item that they came across was a small leather bound book, entitled ‘The Map of the Mind’. Annie opened the tome and quickly put in her pocket, feeling the need to always have it by her side, deflecting any questions from Biff about what the book was.
Next they saw an old fashioned formal blue velvet magician’s cloak. Biff tried it on and Annie said; ‘Woah, just like Harry Potter.’ Biff said; ‘What?’ ‘When you put the cloak on you just faded into the shadows. Here, let me try.’ Annie took the cloak and put it on to show Biff and she proceeded to meld into the shadows. ‘Wicked.’ Biff said. ‘We need to keep this.’ He added, folding the cloak and putting it in his pack.
The third item that they found was an old time radio. ‘I wonder if this works?’ Biff said as he turned on the knob.
Flint had the desire to go have a discussion with his friend Bob this evening. Not wanting to traverse Kingsport in his Vespa, he called a taxi and asked to be taken to the Kingsport Agricultural Station. It was almost 9 pm when he was dropped at the front gate. Flint asked the driver to come back in an hour. He tipped the driver well and sent the cab on his way.
‘I’m sorry sir, but the facility is closed for the evening.’ The guard told Flint. ‘Look, I’m here to see Bob. He should be expecting me. Please call down and find out.’ The inebriated Flint replied to the guard. After a couple of minutes and a few transfers, the surprised guard handed Flint a visitor’s pass and directed him into the building.
Flint was brought to a security door that said ‘BL 4 Facility’. His escort entered the code; 07528 and told Flint to meet Bob in the first room on the right. That code seemed familiar to Flint. It was the code given to him on a post-it note in that batch of ‘intel’ that he got prior to coming to Kingsport. He wondered if ‘Bob’ was just playing with him at this point.
Flint descended the stairs to this ‘laboratory’, noting the sign at the bottom of the stairs that indicated cows to the right and plants to the left. Under the sign was a typical ‘NO’ traffic sign (red circle with a diagonal slash through it) that had a picture of a cow, a lightning gun and a lightning bolt within the circle. Well, that does make a lot of sense, given current events here in Kingsport.
Flint took a right and then the next left into what seemed a normal stanchion style cattle barn. Two lines of ten cows were held by the head in the stanchions. Out of each cow’s head ran a glowing fiber cable that attached to a box on the ceiling. A larger glowing cable ran from that box to a big console at the front of the barn. Seated at the terminal, watching 3 Stooges DVDs on a portable TV, was Bob.
‘How they hanging big guy?’ Bob asked Flint. Bob’s speech forming in Flint’s head. ‘Would you mind explaining this setup?’ Flint asked. ‘It’s our mainframe. Cows hooked together in series and then in parallel give a powerful and unique processing capability. Sorry about the ‘Mad Cow Disease’ by the way. It’s more hype than anything else really. Do you want to see the bottling facility next door?’
‘Sure, show me the bottling facility’. Flint replied. He thought that his next book was essentially writing itself.
Bob took Flint down the hall to the ‘plant’ side of the building. The room he walked into was unique to say the least. The middle of the room contained ten huge, mutated carnivorous plants. Above the plants were pipes that dropped human body parts into the gaping maws of the plants. Inserted into the trunks of the plants were tubes used to collect the sap. From the plants, the tubes led to a large machine that Bob called the distillation unit. From the distillation unit another pipe led to a machine that Bob called the bottling unit.
‘Before you ask, it’s all legal. These parts are obtained from the morgue and funeral home. We have all the proper paperwork.’ Bob said. Flint wanted to try a bottle, but Bob told him that it wouldn’t sit well in a human. The MiGo use it to enhance their fertility rituals, or as Bob would say; ‘It helps get the yang up for our folk.’
With that, Bob showed Flint out of the lab. On his way out, he handed Flint his lightning gun. ‘Here. You might need this. It only has ten shots, and please be careful. Keep it away from cows.’
Chardonnay spent the evening in luxury. She treated herself to a spa treatment and massage. Following some delightful deep tissue work by her masseuse, Brian, Chardonnay returned to her room to find a note had been slipped under her door. The note had the same envelope and paper as the note that she received when she first arrived.
We need to talk. Bring your ‘group’ back to the Horticultural Society and I’m sure that we can come to an arrangement.
Marge was worried. It was 7:45 am and Rita hadn’t showed up for work and she isn’t answering her phone. Something must be wrong. ‘Otto, you’re in charge. I’m going to find Rita and Annie.’ She said as she left the Waffle Hut. ‘Sure thing boss.’ Otto said as he took off his apron and moved to the front register.
It was a quick one and a half block sprint over to Kingsport Curios. When Marge walked in, she knew right away what the problem was. ‘Damn Radio’ She muttered to herself.
Biff and Annie sat transfixed in front of a 30’s era radio. Rita stood motionless 3 feet away from them as if she was stopped in mid stride moving toward them. Marge figured out that that must be the radius of the radio’s effect, approximately ten feet. She skirted the wall of the shop and moved behind the cash register on the right side of the building. Under the counter was a jar of earplugs. She put in the earplugs, and then made her way to the radio, turned it off, and moved it back to its shelf.
‘Serves you right for playing around in the shop. Rita, you should have known better.’ Marge said. ‘I know. It was dark, and I didn’t see until it was too late.’ Rita replied. ‘Come on. Rita has work to do, and you two need to start your day. Let this be a lesson to you. Just be glad you didn’t get into something more lethal.’ Marge lectured, shooing everyone out of the store, not giving anyone time question much.
‘It’s after 8 in the morning, and the gang is waiting at the Waffle Hut for you.’ Marge said, anticipating Annie’s question. Annie and Biff shrugged it off and just went with it. The last thing that they remembered was listening to an old time radio show when Biff turned on that odd radio. What a strange start to the day. Biff’s counting it as a win. He got to spend the night with a hot chick.
When the group finally convened at the Waffle Hut, most were in mid-waffle. Flint was soaking up a large stack of hang-over curing waffles (at least that’s what Cookie told him) and the rest were feasting on a good breakfast. Rita started to work her morning shift and told Annie that she’d meet them around 10 am when she was done. Annie and Biff told them about the funky radio and Biff’s new cloak. Chardonnay showed everyone her cryptic note. Bethany and Marc had uneventful evenings.
Rita pulled Otto over and asked him to translate the log book from U-734. Based on the translation and the coordinates that were provided within the book, it looked like the submarine met the Cumani family somewhere along the coast north of Kingsport.
The plan of the day was to pay a visit to Irma, and then stop by the police station to see if they could persuade Sheriff Murthy to let them borrow one of the boats from Kingsport Salvage so they could scout the northern shore of Massachusetts.
Sheriff Murthy looked at the map where Bethany and Rita were plotting the course of the German U-boat. It looks like it’s somewhere near the Ashton estate. He was hesitant to ‘loan’ out the boat from the salvage company, but seeing as Rita was going to skipper it and knowing that the group’s work would help in his investigation of the deaths at the salvage company, he finally consented. ‘Just bring it back in one piece.’ He said as the gang left his office.
Flint noticed the painting of the MiGo right off. ‘Why do you have this?’ he said. ‘It’s a vision I’ve been having. I see the MiGo coming out of the cross.’ Irma replied. She then looked over at Annie. ‘I spoke with your mother yesterday and she thinks it is time that you see this. She gave me this envelope the day after she had her encounter with the ghost of Jessica Whitehouse. In light of current events, I think it’s high time we find out what happened that day.’
The letter contained the story of how a young Jessica Whitehouse found the cross over 250 years ago. ‘Well, the path looks clear to me. You need to go to the top of the Hog Island Lighthouse and try to communicate with Jessica. You need to find the lamp.’ Irma told the group.
The group met up with Rita at the Woolworths for lunch. Chardonnay, feeling the need for something to defend herself with bought a new tire iron and an aluminum baseball bat. Lunch was uneventful. The gang filled Rita in on the plan to get the boat from the salvage company, go check out the lighthouse, and then travel along the coast in order to find the coordinates of the cove that the U-boat came from.
The lighthouse was only accessible via the bridge from the northern shore of Kingsport harbor. Rita parked the boat across from the Pirate Museum and they walked the couple of blocks to the lighthouse bridge. When they got there, they saw a chain that said; ‘lighthouse closed for private NEPS event’. Walking over the chain, the group went to the front door of the lighthouse and knocked.
Mary Warren answered the lighthouse door. ‘I’m sorry, but the lighthouse is closed for our event this evening. We have a lot of equipment that has been setup here and aren’t letting anyone in.’ Marc flashed his badge, but Mary continued. ‘I don’t think that you have jurisdiction here, but at any rate you need to talk to Giles Corey at the New England Paranormal Society, just up the road about two blocks.’
When the group arrived at the NEPS building there was an argument happening between a tall elderly man in clergyman’s garb and a gentle man in his mid-30s. The reverend continued to berate the younger man. ‘Giles, what you are doing is an abomination. You’ve turned our organization into a cheap whore, selling it out to the public as a kind of side show act. We’re better than that. You know how serious things can get and you’re selling tickets to this ‘ghost hunt’ as a kind of amusement park ride.’ With that, the elderly man pushed by the group and left the building in a huff.
‘I’m sorry that you had to see that.’ Giles Corey told the group. ‘Reverend Burroughs is a good man and an important member of NEPS. So, I hope that you’re here about our exciting ghost hunt tonight at the lighthouse?’
The gang decided that it would be best to just buy 6 ‘discounted’ tickets to tonight’s ghost hunt than to try and talk their way into the lighthouse. They only had to wait around a few hours and in the meantime they could go over to the pirate museum and find out if Stewart Ross had any information on the Cumani family.
Stewart Ross was a cagey sort of fellow. He was the type of person who seemed to be connected to everything, but only enough to have plausible deniability about such an association. It was a little after 2 in the afternoon and things were quiet at the museum. Ross said that there was little history about the Cumani’s after the mid-1700s. Rumors and innuendo abound about their family still being active today in the Kingsport underground, but there is no proof.
Flint reached for his wallet and pulled out $200. ‘Would this help locate some information on this issue?’ Flint asked Ross. ‘Hmm, let me see.’ Ross said as he palmed the $200. ‘I’ll be right back. Let me check some files.’ A few minutes passed. He returned with a triumphant smile on his face. ‘I was able to locate one bit of information. It seems that in the early 1800s, the Ashton family name became synonymous with Cumani.
Armed with that knowledge and a visit to the local ice cream establishment, the group made their way to the lighthouse for the evening’s ‘ghost hunt’. Hopefully, they can be left alone enough to make their way up to the top of the lighthouse, find the lamp, and get on with things.
The evening started off slowly. In addition to the six member s investigating the curse of the talking cross, there was Mary Warren from the NEPS, the three GhostFacers, and four additional individuals who purchased this ghost hunting excursion. There was much ‘eye rolling’ (especially by Bethany) as the visiting ghost hunters from California, the GhostFacers, were demonstrating the equipment. Ed Zedmore and Harry Spangler were egotistical and overbearing. Ed’s sister Maggie seemed competent as she quietly demonstrated the equipment.
About midway into the GhostFacers’ presentation, the Reverend George Burroughs burst into the main floor of the lighthouse’s residence where the presentations were being made. ‘You all have no idea what dangers you will face in this line of work. The only way you will learn is if I show you!’ With that Reverend Burroughs exited the lighthouse, slamming the door behind him.
Soon after the dramatic exit, the doo began to glow blue and strange things started to happen. Ghosts started to appear, spectral images of humans, dressed in old fashioned garb, seemingly oblivious to the people around them. Then in the room leading from the main hall to the lighthouse, 3 more apparitions took shape. These apparitions were different from the ghostly ones. These were only unformed spectral mass that glowed dark blue. To make matters worse, 5 skeletons walked out of a nearby closet and started attacking those close to them.
Flint tried the main door. It was not budging. He took out his lightning gun and fired it at the door. The bolt of lightning ricocheted off the door, striking Maggie Zedmore in the forehead, killing her instantly. At the same time, the other GhostFacers were attacked by the three spectral wraiths, causing them to slump to the ground (each of their intelligence stats being reduced to zero for those who are following along in game land). Undeterred, Flint went into the room with the wraiths and tried the door there only to find it barred as well. This time, his lightning gun only sent a bolt through his tin foil hat when it rebounded off the door.
Eventually the skeletons were killed and the blue glow faded from the doors and windows, to be replaced by the sound of bickering. Giles Cory broke into the lighthouse’s main room and yelled. ‘Is everyone alright?’ A quick survey of the situation demonstrated that not to be the case. While the NEPS was cleaning up this mess and calling the police, the gang thought this a good time to make their way to the top of the lighthouse and try to find Jessica and her lantern.
‘Granddaughter, I see that you bear the curse.’ The ghost of Jessica Whitehouse said to Annie. The ghost of Jessica roamed the top of the lighthouse and told them the story of how she died. Then she directed their attention to an old miner’s lantern sitting near the base of the rotating light. ‘Take the lamp. Seal the Cross and then dump it in the Atlantic where it won’t be found again.’
As they left the lighthouse, Sheriff Murthy and Deputy Andy arrived to take the Reverend Burroughs into custody. Freddy Hsu was also there to deal with the remains of poor Maggie Zedmore. The group decided that since it was still early, they would sail up the coast and scout the coordinates that they got from the U-boat.
‘I hope that someone didn’t plant a bomb on the boat.’ Chardonnay said casually. Rita and Marc stopped and looked at each other. ‘You guys wait here while Rita and I check it out.’ Marc said to the group.
Marc and Rita boarded The Rum Runner and checked out the cockpit. Indeed, the ignition was tampered with. They inspected the boat and found a sizeable bomb located in the engine room. This will be tricky, but both Marc and Rita had experience with explosives. They should defuse the ignition first.
From the dock, the group saw Marc and Rita emerge from the engine room. ‘Stay back until we say it’s safe.’ Marc said as they walked back to the cockpit.
‘Okay, red wire, blue wire…. Oops!’
The Rum Runner exploded, throwing shrapnel everywhere. Bethany, Biff, and Flint were hit and blown back. Chardonnay and Annie managed to escape harm. Marc and Rita were thrown from the boat, seemingly lifeless. Annie jumped into the water and deftly brought both bodies to shore. They are both just clinging to life.