Scenario Author: Allan Goodall
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: December 10, 2004
Game System: Chaosium's Basic RolePlaying (BRP)
Keeper: Allan Goodall
Characters: Nicholas Connelly, codename MICHAEL (Jason Gallagher); Joshua Frost, codename MORGAN (Jimmy Pope); Carson Kovac, codename MAYA (Alana Goodall)
Run for the shadows, run for the shadows
run for the shadows in these golden years
- David Bowie, "Golden Years"
The agents drove in the rental car along the streets of the Sunset Park gated community, streets that didn't follow the rational laws of geometry. Agent MICHAEL started to regain his senses. "We have to get out of here! Go back the way you came!" he cried. He was having trouble dealing with the realization that the streets defied physical laws.
Agent MORGAN muttered something about his GPS unit not working while it lay on his lap displaying a "no signal" message.
"The last time we were stuck until the sun rose," said MAYA.
Once MICHAEL had calmed down MAYA, the driver, told MICHAEL to navigate them out of the subdivision... if he could. "Give me the map!" said MICHAEL as he snatched it up. They were at the intersection of Spruce Court and Ash Woodpecker Road. MICHAEL couldn't find that intersection on their makeshift map. They turned off Spruce Court and onto Willow Dove Road. The map did not show those two roads intersecting. MAYA stopped the car and all three agents stared at the map, trying to figure out where they were in relation to the community's main entrance. They needed to get to either Finch Juniper Lane or Cardinal Pine Crescent in order to connect with Birch Sparrow Way and the exit.
MAYA put the car into gear and turned onto Falcon Sequoia Drive. A little way down the street they saw a park. For once the map didn't let them down. There was a park on Falcon Sequoia Drive named "Sunset Park". There was no to tell if the community was named after the park or vice versa. The park consisted of trees, bushes, pathways, stone benches with wood slats, children's play areas, and lots of lush grass. It was like thousands of other suburban parks throughout the country, except for one startlingly unique feature: this park seemed to be surrounded with a shimmering wall of translucent light. MAYA pulled the car to the curb without having to be asked.
The agents got out of the car. They walked cautiously toward the shimmering wall. MAYA looked around and found a stick. She picked it up and poked the light wall. The stick poked through without any resistance, and they could see it on the other side of the wall. She pulled out the stick and cautiously touched it. It was neither hot nor cold. It wasn't warped. It appeared to be exactly the same as when she picked it up.
She put her hand up to the wall and slowly moved it through the "barrier". Nothing happened. It was as though the light wall wasn't there. She pulled her hand back. After a brief discussion they decided to send MAYA through the wall. MORGAN tied one end of a spool of heavy-duty fishing line to her belt. The bulk of the line was wrapped around a stout piece of dowel. He tested the line by pulling her, to see if he could yank her back in case of an emergency. It looked like it would work. MORGAN handed her the GPS unit and the video camera. She took a deep breath, started the camera rolling, and stepped through the wall.
MAYA found herself in the park, but there was no wall of light. In its place were cyclopean buildings made of dark and sandy-brown stone that seemed to rise as high as twenty or thirty stories. The park's grass grew right up to the edge of the buildings. There was no seam at the boundary, no cut. It was as though the buildings had been dropped right onto the lawn but not allowed to sink below the soil's surface. A deep shadow blanked the park, evidently helping the illusion of darkness seen from the other side. At the opposite end of the park was a wide passage between two buildings, suggesting a street or alley. The same could be seen off to her right and left. The park appeared to be at the junction of a "T" intersection.
Stunned for a moment, MAYA quickly recovered and took in the scene with the video camera. She checked the GPS unit, but it continued to indicate that there was no signal.
On the other side of the barrier, the two male agents were puzzled at MAYA's reaction. They could see her as though she were standing only a few feet away from them, albeit through a shimmering curtain of light. Past MAYA they could see the other side of the park and the houses on bordering streets. If not for the light barrier and MAYA's behavior, they wouldn't have thought anything the least bit strange was happening.
MAYA looked behind her. The fishing line disappeared into a wall. MAYA started, and then called for the men to pull her back.
MICHAEL and MORGAN heard her as clearly as if there was no barrier at all between them. They immediately pulled her back. She came to the light barrier and stopped for a moment, as if she hit something soft but substantial. The two agents looked at each other and then pulled harder.
The string pulled tight with a lurch and MAYA was yanked up against the stone wall behind her. The wall didn't feel like stone. It felt more like rubber. There was a harder tug, a soft popping sound, and MAYA was back outside the park.
Once she regained her composure MAYA described what she saw. She handed MORGAN the video camera. He rewound the tape and played it back, with MICHAEL watching over his shoulder. It was just as MAYA described.
MORGAN went to the car and pulled out his Geiger counter. The device ticked away slowly, due to ever-present background radiation. He traced the device over MAYA. She was not radioactive, though she now wished they had thought to test this before she had stepped through the barrier. MORGAN stuck the counter's probe through the barrier. The device's ticking slowed, indicating there was even less background radiation on the other side of the light wall.
"Should we send someone else through?" asked MAYA.
"We should send someone else through," replied MORGAN, "to test the perceptual value, to see if it alters to each individual's perceptions."
"Well, you go on through, Mr. Perception," suggested MAYA.
MAYA and MICHAEL tied MORGAN to the fishing line. Once secure, MORGAN stepped through with the video camera, the Geiger counter, and the GPS unit.
The CDC investigator saw the same thing that MAYA had seen: the same cyclopean buildings and the same shadows. He looked up. The sky was an almost purple hue, though it was lightening near the top of buildings over to his right. There were a few stars shining in the sky, and there was a nebula visible to the naked eye. He couldn't tell if this world's star was rising or setting. He firmly believed he was no longer on the Earth. He checked his GPS unit more to confirm his suspicions than out of the expectation of it working. There was, of course, no signal.
All the time he had the video camera running. He turned it around so that he was looking into the camera, Blair Witch Project style. He said, "Now I will start to take samples." He pointed the camera at his "manpurse", where he stowed most of his gear. He dug out a small knife. He moved to a building off to his left. He tried to dig out a sample of the stone, but he could not. There was some resistance to the blade, but it pierced the building's surface without leaving a mark or pulling up stone. MORGAN figured that the blade had simply passed back through the light wall.
On the other side of the barrier, MAYA and MICHAEL could see MORGAN's actions without context. They heard him talk into the camera. It was more eerie for MAYA than for MICHAEL, as she had experienced the same thing as MORGAN. From this side of the wall it was easy to believe that she had imagined it all.
MORGAN gave up trying to take a sample of the stone. He looked around. At the edge of the park, about fifty feet in front of him, was an arch way. MORGAN walked over to it. Line played out behind him, apparently from MAYA and MICHAEL giving him more slack. He stood in front of the arch way and scanned the building. He walked up to the doorway's threshold. He put up his hand. There was some sort of soft barrier before him. He pushed a bit harder and slipped through.
MAYA and MICHAEL watched MORGAN walk to the far edge of the park. They played out fishing line as he went. It looked as though he was going to come out through the light barrier on the left side of the park. He put his hand up to the barrier, obviously noting some resistance. He stepped up and pushed through the barrier. There was a brief, bright flash.
The park was gone. In its place was a stone piazza, reminiscent of what one would see in an ancient section of Florence. There was no sign of MORGAN. The fishing line lay at their feet, severed.
MORGAN was in a small room with a set of stairs leading upward. Faint sunshine illuminated the room in soft red tones. He checked his GPS unit but there was still no signal. He had gone through some sort of barrier but he was either still not back on Earth, or he was back in Sunset Park... which, too, might not be on Earth!
The room's furniture was spartan in both appearance and purpose. There was a thick wooden table and two thick wooden chairs. On the table was a stack of papers. A slight breeze swirled the papers off the table. MORGAN hadn't noticed the breeze until a moment after he saw the fluttering paper. He bent down to pick a sheet off the floor. It immediately turned to dust in his hand. He thought of taking one of the chairs with him, through the barrier, but decided not to. He turned back the way he had come and stepped through the arch way, this time with no resistance. He was standing in the park. He looked around. The fishing line was lying slack on the ground. It no longer stuck out of the wall, either. It had been severed.
The CDC investigator hurried over to the wall beyond the severed fishing line. He pushed against it. It was made of solid stone. MORGAN — ever the scientist — took a sample of the stone as he fought back panic.
He went over to the next stone wall. He pressed against it. It, too, was solid. He did the same thing for the other walls surrounding the park. He was greeted with unyielding stone.
MORGAN walked back to the arch way. He crossed the threshold. There was no resistance. He saw the stairs leading up to the next level. He thought for a moment, then pulled a pen and his notepad from his manpurse. He wrote, "I went up the stairs" on the paper, ripped it from the pad, and then taped it to the stone wall, outside of the arch way, with surgical tape. He climbed the stairs.
When he got to the top of the stairs he figured he was on the equivalent of the third floor. In front of him was another arch way. He could see a stone bridge leading from this building to another building over a distance roughly equivalent to the width of the park. He went up to the arch way and looked out. MORGAN could see the park... some ten stories below him. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. Somehow a climb of two stories turned into ten. "Damn non-Euclidean..." he muttered to himself.
He looked down again. The park looked undisturbed. He could see his sign still taped to the wall. "Whew. My sign is still there," he muttered to himself, with surprising relief. He looked out again, and then realized that he hadn't seen this bridge between the buildings when he was down in the park. It occurred to him that the architecture of this place was changing. Although the bridge beckoned, MORGAN turned around and ran back down the stairs. He was a little bit surprised, but very thankful, when he found himself once more in the park.
MORGAN turned around, went back into the room and pulled out a chair. He placed the chair near the center of the park in a spot with a clear line of sight to where he initially walked through the barrier. He sat down on the chair and made himself comfortable. As an afterthought he called out, "You guys, if you can see me in the frigging park, it's the damned non-Euclidean landscape!" His only response was his voice echoing back to him.
MAYA and MICHAEL blinked in unison. The stone courtyard before them was made of the same dark brown and sandy brown stone MAYA saw when she stepped through the light wall. There were no trees or bushes, just stone pathways with dark soil deposits. The deposits suggested someone's attempt at landscaping. In the center of the courtyard was what appeared to be a water fountain, though it was devoid of liquid. In the center of the fountain was a statue. The statue appeared to be of two naked lovers who had merged into one being. It was as though they had run at each other, arms outstretched, and had almost succeeded in passing through one another. The statue was so lifelike as to be disturbing.
MAYA turned her gaze away from the fountain. She looked over the soil areas. She noticed the unmistakable pattern of tire marks in a soil patch near the fountain. Someone had driven a car through that soil! She pointed this out to MICHAEL.
MICHAEL told MAYA to get in the car. He had an idea. Once in the car, he told her to drive into the courtyard. MAYA nodded, started the rental car's engine, and drove it slowly up to the statute. Nothing happened. MICHAEL reached over and honked the horn.
After a moment MAYA noticed a light on in a house across the street. She saw someone come to the window. MICHAEL pulled out a pair of binoculars and looked at the house. A man was watching them. He was speaking into a telephone handset.
MICHAEL hypothesized that Vinnie, the murder victim, had walked into this area and the "sorcerous trio" — Sebring, Charleton, and Elton — killed him because he knew too much. He told MAYA to get some soil samples. If he was right, the soil in this courtyard would be the same as that found in Vinnie's house and on the tires of his car. MAYA took out some baggies, opened the door, and quickly scooped up some soil.
The person in the house was still watching them, though he no longer held the telephone handset. MICHAEL pulled out his trusty parabolic antenna, which he had in the back seat. He trained it on the observer's window. MICHAEL heard the phone ring. The person in the house answered it.
"Hello..." said the man at the window. "Yes, they are still there...." There was a long pause. "Okay." The man hung up the phone.
Grasping at straws, MAYA rolled down the car's window and shouted for MORGAN. MORGAN didn't reply. Lights in another house came on. MICHAEL aimed the antenna at this house. He was almost deafened by reverberation. He turned the antenna back to the first house, but all he could hear was someone breathing.
MAYA heard gasoline powered golf carts off in the distance. The sputter of their engines grew louder. She threw the car into reverse as MICHAEL grabbed for his night vision equipment. MAYA reversed out of the courtyard and back onto the street. The Grand Prix was still moving backward when she threw the transmission into drive and stepped on the gas. The lead golf cart turned onto their street. MICHAEL saw that there were two people per golf cart. The passenger in the lead cart was loading a rifle or a shotgun.
The Grand Prix's tires spun and then caught. The car rocketed forward, only to bottom out on a speed bump near the first intersection. MICHAEL hit his head on the roof of the car. MAYA slowed down a little bit; it would do them no good if she wrecked the car's suspension or tore out the oil pan. There were nasty speed bumps at each intersection, and at regular intervals along the longer stretches of street. The Home Owners Association truly meant to enforce the 20 mile per hour speed limit. The golf carts had no problem with speed bumps; there were gaps in the middle of the street wide enough for a golf cart to avoid the bumps. MAYA hit another speed bump, and a nasty noise emanated from the suspension.
There were now at least three carts giving chase. MICHAEL trained his antenna on the lead golf cart. He heard the noise of the engine, and he heard someone saying, "Yes, sir..." but the jostling car made it impossible to pick up anything else.
MAYA, tired of slowing down for the bumps, drove up onto the front yard of a house. She had less traction, but she didn't have to worry about the murderous speed bumps. Somehow she didn't think this is what the HOA had in mind when it put in the speed bumps...
As she drove, MAYA was struck with a sudden epiphany. The street layout made sense! Somehow she knew exactly how to get out of the gated community. It was all so simple! Why hadn't she realized this before?!? She started heading toward the front gate, when it hit her that she knew how to get to Charleton's house, too! She made a quick left turn, taking out a mail box along the way, and then a sharp right turn. They were several blocks away from Charleton's home.
MICHAEL asked if there was some way to get behind the golf carts. "We can ram them and disable them!"
"Yes, Mr. 'Protect and Serve'," said MAYA, sarcastically. She would see what she could do when they got near Charleton's place.
MICHAEL gave her the night vision equipment, and she turned off the car's lights. Two quick turns later they bounced over another speed bump and arrived at Charleton's sprawling home. She quickly drove up the gap between Charleton's house and the neighbor's house. She misjudged slightly, took off the driver's side mirror and scraped the driver's door. She slammed on the breaks and killed the engine. They could hear the approaching "putt-putt" of the golf carts.
The agents got out, pulled out their pistols, and ran to the front of the car. MAYA hid there for protection while MICHAEL slipped around the back of Charleton's house. As MICHAEL investigated the back door, MAYA saw a golf cart drive past at full speed. Then she saw a second, followed quickly by a third. The cart's engines receded into the distance.
MAYA joined MICHAEL. She pulled out her lockpicks and worked on the back door. MICHAEL hurried back to the car, got out the parabolic antenna, and played it over the neighboring houses. All he heard was snoring. He went back to the car to act as a lookout.
After several minutes MAYA managed to open the door. She entered the house, followed by MICHAEL. In the master bedroom they found a wall safe hanging open. Inside the safe were papers, including a will, a diploma, and several sets of business-related documents. Nothing they found was suspicious nor mysterious. MICHAEL believed that there was some sort of internal struggle taking place within the "cult", or whatever it was they had stumbled across. He believed that Charleton was hexed and something important was taken. What that "something important" might be, and why Charleton was attacked, were still a mystery, if — indeed — MICHAEL's hypothesis was correct.
MICHAEL suggested they look for the attic. They soon found the entrance to the attic, but there was nothing of interest there. As they closed up, MICHAEL heard the sound of a golf cart. It was moving slowly down the street.
"Let's leave the house," said MICHAEL. "Or, we make a stand here and pick them off one-by-one." MAYA looked incredulously at "Mr. 'Protect and Serve'".
She went downstairs and peeked out a window. She saw a golf cart move down the street and then turn onto a side street. They made a quick plan. MAYA would get the car ready. MICHAEL would sneak up behind the cart. He would take out the occupants if they tried to stop MAYA and the car. MICHAEL ran outside and hid behind a neighbor's shrub. Meanwhile, MAYA slid into the car. The golf cart drove past, but the occupants didn't seem to notice the car. Slightly disappointed, MICHAEL ran back to the Grand Prix. He glanced at his watch. It was almost 4 a.m. If the park's disappearance was tied to the sun, sunrise would be on them within an hour. They drove back to the park.
The courtyard was still there. MAYA looked for someplace to hide the rental. Suddenly, there was a flash. The park was back, along with the shimmering wall of light. They could see MORGAN sitting in the park on a rough chair. He was glancing at his watch. He had his pistol in his hand. She parked the car in the same place they had parked earlier. Suspecting MORGAN was in trouble, MICHAEL quickly tied the fishing line around MAYA and MAYA ran for the light wall.
MORGAN passed the time sitting in the chair. He didn't know what else he could do. Deep down he believed that he was lost, forever. Still, the number one rule when you were lost was to stay at your last position and wait for help to arrive. MORGAN had done just that, though he was unsure it would help in a city where the buildings could shift position.
After a while he took out his gun and fired at the wall near the spot where he came into this world. He shot at the wall at regular intervals, about once every half hour. There were four chips in the wall where bullets had struck it. MORGAN glanced at his watch. It was almost time to fire another shot.
Without really aiming, MORGAN raised the pistol and squeezed off a round. He looked up to see where the bullet hit. He was shocked to see MAYA standing there, before him, with a fishing line tied to her waist. She was staring down at her leg. A spot of red began to form on her pants. MORGAN jumped off the chair — sending it toppling backward — as MAYA sank to the ground, swearing. MORGAN took a quick look at her wound. The bullet had passed clean through, and hadn't struck either an artery or the bone. He grabbed his stuff and helped MAYA to the wall. They pushed together. There was rubbery resistance, a quiet "pop!" and they were back in Sunset Park. MICHAEL stared at the two of them; he had witnessed the whole thing.
They rushed the still swearing MAYA to the car. MICHAEL got into the driver's seat while MORGAN tended to her in the back seat. Lights came on in several houses. Evidently the citizens of Sunset Park were unaccustomed to gunshots in the night.
MORGAN treated MAYA. He stopped the bleeding, but could do little else for her in the moving car. MAYA's swearing changed from general comments aimed at various religious figures to specific comments about MORGAN's lineage.
MICHAEL drove as quickly as he could for the front gate, with MAYA directing him between curses. At times it seemed as though they were going in circles, but after a few minutes they arrived at Finch Juniper Lane. MAYA, through gritted teeth, told him to turn left, then right at the first street. That street was Birch Sparrow Way. The community's buildings and the front gate loomed ahead of them. MICHAEL drove up to the exit. The gate opened automatically. They exited Sunset Park.
Once on the streets of Tampa, MAYA cried out "Are we there yet! I want to see a real doctor."
"I am a real doctor!" protested MORGAN. "I made an 'A' in my sutures class."
"Then sew your mouth shut!" growled MAYA.
He treated her with antiseptic, but they would have to wait until they got to the hotel before he could properly clean her wound. Meanwhile, he told them what happened to him. "I got it all on video. Want to see?"
After they got back to the hotel, they spirited MAYA into their room. MORGAN cleaned the wound and sewed it up. It was debatable whether she was lucky or unlucky: she was shot, after all, but the wound was not serious.
They discussed the evening's events. MORGAN was adamant that they had to close the community, even if they weren't sure what, precisely, was happening. MICHAEL turned on the television. The local news was all about Hurricane Frances, which was currently over the Bahamas. It was expected to hit Florida the next morning.
While MAYA and MORGAN rested, MICHAEL returned the car to the rental agency. He noticed that the sky had turned ominous and the wind had whipped up. Traffic was light. He passed several homes where the owners, fully supplied with lumber, were boarding up the windows. After some explaining, and a judicious flash of his badge, MICHAEL got the rental agency to apply the damage to MAYA's collision waiver with a minimum of fuss. He then walked over to a different agency and rented a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
He drove back to the hotel. The agents lay down for a well deserved sleep.
The agents woke up. They needed to find out about Charleton's condition and — if he was in any condition to speak — they needed to talk to him as soon as possible. They also needed their rock and soil samples analyzed. MAYA demanded more pain killers from MORGAN, which he happily gave to her. The two male agents decided to go to the CDC offices and the hospital alone. MAYA needed to rest. MAYA suggested that they simply hole up somewhere until the hurricane blew through. By then she'd be, more-or-less, her old self. The others considered her suggestion, but the male agents still got dressed, cleaned up, and headed for the hospital.
While they were gone, MAYA e-mailed ALPHONSE. She sent a preliminary report along with the video images they captured. She told ALPHONSE everything that had happened, including being shot by MORGAN.
MICHAEL and MORGAN noticed more boarded up homes on their way to the CDC offices. He dropped off the soil and rock samples. The lab said that they would have them analyzed as soon as possible, but it would be sometime next week before they had results, owing to the pending hurricane.
They drove to Brandon Regional Hospital. They found out, from the admissions clerk, that Charleton was on the third floor. They got to the third floor and asked the nurse on duty about Charleton's condition. She looked at MICHAEL's badge and sheepishly stated that Charleton was missing. The agents asked if he checked out, but she said that he hadn't. He had simply vanished. His IVs were taken out, and all his personal effects were left behind, but he was nowhere to be found. A hospital-wide search hadn't found him. They reported him missing to the authorities, but the police were busy dealing with the hurricane and hadn't yet investigated.
Try as he could, MORGAN could not get access to Charleton's personal effects. The nurse would only release those effects if she was presented with a search warrant. MORGAN did get to see Charleton's medical records, thanks to MORGAN's CDC credentials.
While MORGAN tried in vain to see Charleton's personal effects, MICHAEL searched Charleton's private room. He had been transferred there from intensive care that morning. At first he couldn't find anything unusual. Then, when he checked out the walls, he discovered the remains of faint chalk marks on the wall to the right of the door. Something had been drawn in chalk and then erased. MICHAEL called in MORGAN and showed him the chalk marks. MORGAN video taped the wall while MICHAEL photographed it. MICHAEL tried to push against the wall, but it was solid. If there had been an inter-dimensional gate there, it was gone now.
MICHAEL pulled the nurse into the room and asked her about the chalk drawings. She had never seen them before. The cleaning staff happened to be down the hall. MICHAEL asked them about the chalk marks, but they hadn't seen them before, either. MICHAEL and MORGAN asked if Charleton had any visitors. The nurse said that a woman from his work had come by around noon. As far as the nurse knew, the woman had stayed in the room for a few minutes before fetching a nurse. The woman asked when Charleton would be returning to his room, and it was at that point that the nurses realized he was gone. MICHAEL asked what the woman looked like, and the nurse gave a description that matched one of the women they saw outside the management building the night Charleton was taken to the hospital. MICHAEL asked if there had been any other visitors. The nurse asked another nurse, whose shift had started earlier in the day. Around 11 a.m. two other people had visited. Their descriptions matched Sebring and one of the other women who had been outside when Charleton was taken away. MORGAN asked for a list of all the people who had contact with the victim, reinforcing the fallacy that he was working on a case for the CDC.
MORGAN tried once more to get Charleton's personal effects, but the nurse was adamant that she would need a search warrant. The two agents thanked her and made for the elevators. MICHAEL stopped and walked back. He told her that there had been a misunderstanding; he just wanted to see Charleton's personal effects, not take them away. The nurse was more open to this, but she didn't know the location of his personal effects. They would have to ask for the nurse that was on duty the previous night to find out where the effects went. MICHAEL thanked her for her help, and they left.
While they rode down the elevator, it occurred to MORGAN that they had missed their appointment with the aircraft they had chartered to fly them over the community. The pilot would be on his way to Georgia by now, to wait out the storm.
They decided to bring pizza back for supper. They phoned MAYA and asked her what kind of pizza she wanted. She wanted a supreme pizza. They picked up a supreme and a meat lover's pizza from Pizza Hut. They arrived at the hotel with the pizzas. A famished MAYA took the pizzas from them. While she pulled out a slice she informed them that she got a message back from ALPHONSE. Delta Green was still investigating the Revelations of Hali and MORGAN was to watch the gun play!
After supper, MICHAEL called Sunset Park to see if Sebring was there. Apparently he was, because the woman transferred MICHAEL to Sebring's office number. MICHAEL hung up. He then phoned Sebring's house and got the answering machine. He hung up. He figured Sebring was at the office, meaning his house was empty. If they wanted to break into Sebring's home, this was the time.
They drove back to Sunset Park. MICHAEL drove up to the intercome and introduced himself. The guard told him that he was not on the visitor's list. Without waiting for MICHAEL to talk his way in, MAYA leaned over the back of MICHAEL's seat and yelled into the intercom, "Carson Kovac, IRS. He's still dead!" The guard opened the door.
They drove toward Sebring's house. Just as in previous trips to Sunset Park, they got lost. It wasn't more than about five minutes, though, before MICHAEL suddenly realized he knew his way around the community.
MORGAN checked the GPS again. Once again, it wasn't working. "They are recreating the non-Euclidean world here!" He said that's why all the buildings looked alike, that they were deliberately confusing people's minds. MORGAN believed that Sebring and his buddies appeared to be substituting our world with the non-Euclidean world.
Within a few minutes MICHAEL found Sebring's house. He parked the Grand Cherokee in front of it. They sat in the Jeep for a couple of minutes discussing what they would do if anyone came to the front door while they were inside. MICHAEL decided that they would simply take the offensive and ask them if they knew anything about the disappearance of "Mr. Charleton".
They walked up to the front door. MICHAEL rang the bell. There was no response. He rang it again, but there was still no response. MORGAN tried the door knob. The door would not open. MAYA slipped around to the back and tried to pick the lock. MORGAN joined her while MICHAEL moved the car so it was parked in front of a house two doors down.
MAYA picked the lock in about five minutes. MICHAEL and MORGAN looked for signs of a security system, but they didn't find any. MORGAN pulled out the house layouts that he picked up in Sunset Park's management office. Sebring's house was based on the plan named "Lemon 1". MICHAEL looked at the plan, and then made straight for Sebring's bedroom. MORGAN went to the study, while MAYA did a quick search of the rooms the two men had bypassed.
MAYA found a picture in the living room with Sebring and a woman. The picture looked fairly recent. She remembered seeing a picture on Sebring's desk with this woman in it. MAYA suspected the woman was Sebring's wife.
While searching the study, MORGAN found a map of Florida with blue lines drawn on it. The lines looked like they were the path of the impending hurricane. There was a circle around Tampa, with the letters "5 pm" written beside it. He also found photographs. He called for MAYA.
There were two wedding pictures. One of these included the woman MAYA saw in the previous pictures. The other photograph was older as Sebring looked younger. Obviously this was a picture of his first wife. Neither agent recognized the woman, though she had a passing resemblance to the woman they assumed was Sebring's second wife. They found another photograph of Sebring and his second wife. The woman looked like she was drugged or "not quite with it". Sebring was smiling for the camera. The buildings in the background were monolithic stone structures made of dark and sandy brown stone. MAYA and MORGAN recognized the buildings...
MICHAEL found a safe in the wall of Sebring's bedroom. He had MAYA try to crack it while he kept watch at the front window of the house. At the same time, MORGAN searched the attic. MORGAN found nothing. MAYA finally broke into the safe. Inside she found a large book that looked about a hundred years old. It was the same book she found in Sebring's desk drawer. Printed on the spine was "Revelations of Hali". Also in the safe were personal papers with no obvious connection to their investigation. She took the book and closed the safe.
MICHAEL saw someone drive slowly past their Jeep, so the agents rushed for the back door. After the car drove away, they jumped into the Jeep and headed for the exit. This time MICHAEL had no trouble figuring out which direction to go. As they drove, he noticed that none of the houses in Sunset Park had been boarded up for the coming storm.
On the way to the front gate, MORGAN took the tome and leafed through it. There was a book plate in the front of the book listing it as the property of Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts. "Cool. I bet they have overdue book fines!"
The agents got to the gate and drove through without incident. Once outside the gate, MORGAN checked his GPS unit. It was working perfectly. When he tried to go through the GPS unit's memory it would only backtrack as far as the community's gate.
When they arrived back at the hotel, MORGAN continued skimming the book, MAYA rested, and MICHAEL turned on the television to check the status of the hurricane. The hurricane was due to make landfall around 8 a.m. the next morning. It was on track to hit Tampa around 5 p.m. The agents figured that Sebring and his people had something planned for that time.
MORGAN finished skimming the book. He determined that it was about a city (or was it a planet?) called Carcosa and a person(?) known as The King in Yellow. It suddenly occurred to the agents that Sunset Park's color scheme was made up of shades of yellow. There were three or four magical spells in the book, including Create Gate. MORGAN and MICHAEL took the book down to the hotel's business center and photocopied it, under the assumption that ALPHONSE would take the book away from them when he found out about it.
After they returned to their room, MORGAN took another look at the Tarot deck. MICHAEL e-mailed ALPHONSE and asked him to information about this person/thing called "The King In Yellow". The King of Coins Tarot card, with its severed head, seemed particularly interesting. After he sent the e-mail to ALPHONSE, MICHAEL searched the internet to see if he could find anything interesting about the card. He eventually discovered that the pattern of stars in the picture matched the constellation Taurus. The star Aldebaran is in Taurus. MORGAN did a quick search of the book for a reference to Aldebaran but didn't find one.
The storm was due to hit from the east. With that in mind, MICHAEL moved the group to a single westward facing suite.
After they moved, MORGAN and MAYA went to sleep while MICHAEL watched over them. He was staring out the window when he caught sight of something in the lightning. It was a large, winged serpent flying around outside of their hotel room. The vision was too much for MICHAEL, who simply stared out the window in shock...