Scenario Author: Allan Goodall, loosely based on From a Buick 8, by Stephen King
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: September 19, 2009
Game System: Chaosium's Basic RolePlaying (BRP)
Keeper: Allan Goodall
Characters: Nicholas Connelly, codename MICHAEL (Jason Gallagher); Carson Kovac, codename MAYA (Alana Goodall); Randall Parker, codename MURPHY (Dustin Gulledge)
Agent MICHAEL received a message on his cell phone. Caller ID showed that it was from an unknown caller. He answered.
"You are invited to a night at the opera." MICHAEL grunted. Another one of Agent ALEX's changes: the "cordially invited" part of the standard Delta Green mission announcement greeting was changed to simply "invited". "Contact your team and have them fly to Minneapolis, Minnesota on the first available flight tomorrow morning. Contact Agent ADAM when you arrive at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport."
"Understood," replied MICHAEL. The caller hung up.
MICHAEL contacted Agent MAYA, and the newest member of M Cell, Agent MURPHY, as he pulled up airport information on his laptop. They had a new mission, but he had yet to receive the particulars. He told them to meet at the airport. A picture of a statue in the airport caught his attention. "Meet me in the coffee shop across from the Snoopy and Woodstock statue."
Agent MURPHY's plane was the last to arrive, as he was flying in from Los Angeles. MURPHY had been with the cell only a few months, replacing Agent MORGAN. MORGAN was promoted at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. He asked for a leave of absence from Delta Green as an active agent. He still kept in contact with the organization as a friendly. While Agent MURPHY was relatively inexperienced with the cell, his skill set as an ATF agent was seen as a major asset by the other members. MICHAEL and MAYA greeted him warmly in the coffee shop next to the statue.
MICHAEL used his phone card to relay a connection through a secure server in Costa Rica to Agent ADAM's phone. ADAM answered on the second ring.
ADAM explained the mission with little fanfare. A police officer was found dead on a road near the town of Brule, Wisconsin. His head and part of one arm were missing. The surgically precise nature of his injuries and the lack of blood at the scene prompted Delta Green to investigate. The agents were to proceed to Superior, Wisconsin that evening, and then drive into the State Patrol office in Iron River the next morning. Cover identification would be provided for them at the Best Western in Superior.
Agent MICHAEL acknowledged their mission orders and hung up the phone.
The agents proceeded to the Avis counter and rented a black Chevrolet Impala. MAYA grabbed the keys, while MURPHY called shotgun. They drove to Superior, Wisconsin. A package was waiting for them at the hotel. Inside the package were three pieces of FBI identification, listing them as special agents Larry Benson, Justin Grange, and Melanie Smits. The package also contained a key to a storage locker in town. The agents crashed for the evening, while pondering the need for a "green box" in a place as small as Superior, Wisconsin.
They rose early, grabbed a quick breakfast at the Denny's beside Lake Superior, and drove to the "green box". Safe and Secure Mini Storage was in an industrial/commercial area not far from US 53. The "green box" was a storage unit shielded from direct view from the road. Agent MICHAEL opened the door to the locker.
Inside, the agents found:
The agents took two H&K assault rifles and all the ammunition. They also took the DVD as a lark, but left the rest of the stuff behind. They locked the "green box" behind them, then they climbed into the car. MAYA pulled out of the storage place, and within a couple of minutes they were on their way to Iron River, Wisconsin.
While they passed through the town of Brule, they looked for signs of where the officer's body was found, but they didn't see any. MAYA suggested that whatever happened to the police officer did not happen on U.S. 2, but on some side road.
MAYA parked the Impala beside the small Wisconson State Patrol office. Inside, they were immediately blocked by a counter separating the entrance from the desks and workstations beyond. A woman in a State Patrol uniform greeted the agents. They smiled and flashed their FBI credentials. The woman, a patrol officer, nodded quickly and let them in. She led them to the office of Sergeant King, the head of the Iron River detachment.
Sergeant Bill King shook their hands with visible relief. There would be no turf war here. The death of his officer was beyond the detachment's ability to solve, and he was up front about that.
The dead patrolman was Officer John Turner. His body was found on route 27, just north of U.S. Highway 2. He had stopped to check out a car parked on the side of the road. Unfortunately, that was the last call the officer made. If there was anyone in the car, he didn't mention it before his death.
Sergeant King passed the crime scene photos to the agents. They showed a headless body with its right arm missing midway along his forearm. The body lay beside a maroon car. It was hard to tell from the photos if there was any blood on the car's door. Blood had pooled around the body and beneath the car. Other shots showed the car's white interior, but there was no blood inside. Though the pictures were disturbing, the agents had seen worse and were not overly affected by them.
The car itself was a bit of an oddity. It was an old Lincoln Continental Town Car from the late 70s, but it was in great condition. The agents asked if Sergeant King knew anything about the car itself.
Sergeant King shook his head. There were no license plates. "No place to mount plates, either. And there are no VIN plates."
Every vehicle in the U.S. since the early 1980s was required to have vehicle identification number (VIN) plates. These were plates with unique numbers issued by the car manufacturer identifying each individual vehicle. There was usually one or two easily accessible plates (on the top of the dashboard near the window, or on the door), and one or more in a location that was harder to access (mounted on the frame, for example). Even before they were required, Detroit's automakers had been using them since the 1950s. It was an oddity that the car didn't have any, though not entirely out of the question if the car had been completely rebuilt.
The autopsy report was pretty clear as to the cause of death: exsanguination due to decapitation and amputation. The autopsy made it clear that the cuts were made with "extreme surgical precision" through clothing, skin, muscle, and bone. The report did not speculate on the instruments used to make such a clean set of incisions.
The car was in Iron River's impound lot. The officer's body was in the morgue at the local hospital. Sergeant King called the hospital and the lot to inform them that three FBI agents would be visiting soon.
MICHAEL thanked the sergeant and shook his hand. It was always good when you got local police force cooperation. They left the State Patrol office and drove to the hospital. They soon found themselves in the hospital's tiny morgue.
An orderly opened a stainless steel door in the wall. A metal tray slid out, covered by a sheet. The orderly pulled back the sheet without looking. There, before the Delta Green agents, was the naked, headless body of Officer Turner. They lifted the officer's arm and inspected the incision. MICHAEL noticed something right away. When they lifted the arm, the incision came into line with the cut that decapitated the officer. It was like something slid through the officer's neck and continued into his arm (or vice versa). The wounds weren't burned, nor were there defensive marks. There were no other clues on the body, either.
The agents thanked the orderly and departed the hospital. Three minutes later they were at the local car impound lot. MAYA parked the Impala on the street. A bored attendant opened the gate for them. MICHAEL flashed his badge and asked where they were keeping the Lincoln Continental. He didn't have to describe the car any further; the attendant knew exactly what MICHAEL was talking about. He directed them to the center of the lot.
A maroon 1978 Lincoln Continental Town Car sat in the middle of the lot with plenty of empty space around it. It looked for all the world like the other cars were afraid of it. The sun gleamed off its showroom perfect finish.
The agents approached the car cautiously. The driver's window was down. On the outside of the car there was, indeed, blood, but none on the inside. The seats were the white of bleached bone.
Walking around the car and peering inside, they noted only one thing out of the ordinary. The steering wheel looked like it could alter the path of a super tanker, but that was in keeping with the car's time period. So was the dashboard, big enough to play racquetball against. This was definitely something from an earlier decade, though it was as new as if it rolled off a Detroit assembly line last week, or last night. One thing truly stuck out, though: the radio.
MICHAEL and MURPHY inspected the car. MURPHY took the lead, as his ATF background gave him good knowledge of where people hid things. They weren't looking at dismantling the car, at least not yet. They were just looking it over very carefully.
MAYA opened the driver's door and climbed into the car. MICHAEL, who was inspecting the inside of the driver's door, joined her. He leaned inside. He looked at the odometer reading. The car had 238,857.0 miles on it.
MURPHY crawled under the car looking for anything out of the ordinary. Other than the gleaming exhaust system, nothing stood out.
The radio looked, for the most part, like a standard issue radio. It was completely electronic, not the old push-button type. Below the radio were three knobs that seemed to be both a part of the radio and completely foreign. The knob on the left was red, the knob on the right was blue, and the one in the middle was yellow. The red and blue knobs turned. The yellow one did not. While the yellow knob wouldn't turn, it looked like it would depress.
MAYA looked down at the steering column. The keys were in the ignition. She turned the ignition to the "accessories" setting. The radio came to life. No radio station showed on the display. Instead, a sinusoidal wave form appeared. The wave form corresponded to the sound coming from the speakers. It was a thrumming white noise with regular deep oscillations.
As MURPHY began pulling himself out from under the car, MAYA and MICHAEL studied the radio. "What happens if we push the yellow button?" asked MAYA.
MICHAEL shrugged. "Try it."
MAYA pushed the button.
The car erupted in white light. At the same time, a tremendous force sucked MICHAEL into the car, and pulled the door shut.
MURPHY stood up and brushed the dirt from his clothes. He looked at the car's trunk lid. It was locked. "Can you pop the trunk for me?" There was no answer. He looked into the car, but there was no one there.
Agent MURPHY looked around. The other two agents were nowhere to be seen. Scratching his head, he walked up to the car. The window was up. He opened the door.
The bucket seat was smeared with the dull brown/red of dried blood. Lying on the floor was half an arm and a severed head. An upturned "smokey the bear" hat sat beside the head. Agent MURPHY staggered backward, gasping.
MAYA pushed MICHAEL off her lap, and she skittered into the passenger seat. She glared at MICHAEL, then looked out the window. She wasn't in Wisconsin anymore.
The car was in a narrow valley. The light from the setting sun would have cast everything in a deep orange if not for the other sun higher in the sky. The grass had a peculiar purple shade.
MAYA sat in the seat, stunned silent. MICHAEL looked at her and then looked outside. His mouth dropped open. The two of them stared outside for many minutes.
They eventually regained their senses. The radio continued to thrum, but with a different frequency and different oscillation pattern.
A shadow passed over them. MICHAEL looked up through the windshield. A large black creature with leathery wings glided above them. It had stalky antennae and one big, glistening eye that focused on them as it flew in a wide circle. MICHAEL gulped, hard.
MURPHY closed the door. He went back to the attendant shack and knocked on the door. When the attendant opened it, he asked for a garbage bag. The attendant disappeared for a moment, then brought a bag for MURPHY.
MURPHY went back to the car and placed the head and the arm in the bag before tying the top. He looked around again. "I guess I'll just wait."
He realized that he never did see inside the trunk. MURPHY pulled the trunk release. He walked around the back. A terrible stench emanated from the back of the car. Holding a handkerchief over his mouth, MURPHY looked inside. A black thing filled the entirety of the trunk. It had leathery wings, two antennae, and one big, black, lifeless eye. MURPHY slammed the trunk lid.
"I'll give them an hour," he muttered to himself.
It was obvious to MICHAEL and MAYA that whereever they were, they were not on the Earth. They needed to leave, and quickly. There was no telling what else was nearby, and where would they find food and water?
They noticed that the sound was different, now. The radio and the sound it made had something to do with transporting them here, whereever "here" was.
MICHAEL played with the red knob. It changed the sound's pitch. He turned the blue knob. It changed the rate of repetition. He suggested to MAYA that they change the sound and the push the yellow button. MAYA looked up at the thing floating overhead and nodded.
MICHAEL adjusted the sound and pushed the yellow button.
Light erupted around them, again. When it faded, the sound from the radio was different yet again. They found themselves in a cold, dank place. They couldn't see much except for a dense fog. The fog had a musty tinge. The driver's side window was still down.
As he closed the window, he heard something outside. It was hard to tell what exactly he heard, as the fog dampened the sound, but there was something out there pawing its way toward them. Yes, he was certain now, it was getting closer. They couldn't see it, but it was out there.
They needed to leave, and fast.
A thought struck MICHAEL. Maybe the sound from the radio was the sound of the this place? By hitting the button without changing the sound, they were sent somewhere else possibly at random, like hitting the shuffle button on an MP3 player. He suggested that they adjust the knobs to bring up the sound they heard back in the impound lot.
MAYA agreed, but told him to hurry. Whatever was out there was getting closer.
MICHAEL played with the knobs.
Whatever was in the fog was very close now. They could hear something dripping on stone, and a heavy panting.
MAYA sat nervously, fingering her gun. MICHAEL twirled the knobs, stopped, and then adjusted the blue one slightly. To MICHAEL's ears, the sound was the same as it had been back on Earth. He slapped at the yellow button just as a dark shape started to form out of the fog.
The car erupted in light.
The car interior exploded with light. MURPHY shielded his eyes. When the light stopped, he blinked, and looked back at the car. MICHAEL and MAYA scrambled out of the car, slamming the door, and retreating a few paces.
"What happened?" asked MURPHY.
MICHAEL and MAYA described their "trip". MICHAEL suggested that the car was some sort of teleportation device. MURPHY showed them the garbage bag with the head and the arm, backing up the claim. He told them about the creature in the trunk. They opened the trunk again, but there was nothing inside. This, too, fit the theory.
MICHAEL thought he knew what happened to the officer. Someone — the officer, or someone else — pushed the yellow button. Maybe the officer had been leaning in, or maybe the force that pulled MICHAEL into the car sucked the officer part way into the vehicle. Then, it jumped dimensions, creating a time/space bubble that severed the officer's arm and head.
That still didn't answer some key questions: where did the car come from, and who (if anyone) was inside it? At least now they had the rest of the remains of Officer Turner.
They discussed what to do with the car. They could drive it into Lake Superior, or they could find some deep pit and bury it there. They decided to contact A Cell for instructions. In the meantime, they would contact the sergeant and tell him they found the head and arm in the trunk. They could blame it on the people tasked with searching the vehicle.
Someone walked up to them. The stranger was wearing a trench coat and a broad rimmed hat. He was in his late 20s. His face wore inquisitive eyes and a quick smile.
"Good afternoon," said the stranger as he pulled out his telephone. He pointed the phone's camera lens at the agents and pushed a button.
The stranger was gone. Just like that, he was gone.
The agents looked around. The car was gone, too. And it was almost dark. Something wasn't right. MURPHY looked at his watch. Somehow they had lost three hours of time.
As she was going to speak, MAYA noticed the security camera on a pole. The agents looked at each other. MURPHY placed the bag with the officer's head where the car last stood, and then they hurried to the attendant shack.
They asked the attendant if he had seen anyone. He said that someone came by the shack, asked a quick question, then left. He couldn't remember the question. The attendant seemed to be confused. Apparently something had happened to him, too.
MURPHY asked the attendant if he had the tapes for the security cameras. The attendant nodded and took them to the tiny closet/room at the back of the attendant shack. Stuffed onto a shelf was a TV screen that bounced between cameras, and a VCR that recorded what the cameras captured. They thanked the attendant and hustled him out of the room.
The VCR tapes were on a six hour loop. They rewinded the tap and watched from the point where the stranger came up to them. He pulled out his cell phone and raised it. Then, he walked past the agents, climbed into the Lincoln, and drove away. The whole time, the agents just stood there, stock still. They fast forwarded through the tape. They stood there in the sun for three hours, unmoving. Their legs and arms didn't hurt from holding their poses, and they weren't sunburned. Something threw them into a stasis for three hours. The attendant never left his shack in that period, either; the stranger got him, too.
The agents quickly debated what to do. They had a head and an arm from the dead officer, and a missing car. The stolen car had a three hour head start. They had a VCR recording with them standing still for three hours. They now had a big problem.
MAYA slipped the tape into her purse. MICHAEL replaced the tape with another from the stash of recycled tapes. They left the shack, nodding to the dazed attendant as they went.
They decided the best option was to just leave things as they were for now. They could report the car missing in the morning, the local police would find the head and arm, and there would be an all points bulletin sent out for the car.
MICHAEL called A Cell for help. Agent ADAM listened to MICHAEL's explanation, but he wasn't overly helpful. "Find the car. Contact us when you find it," was all that he could offer. They agents went back to their hotel with an air of defeat.
MICHAEL's cell phone rang. It was Sergeant King, shunted through the Costa Rica server to MICHAEL's private cell phone via the disposable telephone number he gave the sergeant. The car was stolen. The thief left behind his "trophies", the officer's missing body parts. The State Patrol was investigating. MICHAEL thanked the sergeant and hung up.
A few minutes later, MICHAEL's cell phone rang. It was Agent ADAM.
"The car was spotted last night in the Michigan upper peninsula. We suspect the car is headed east. We recommend that you fly to Lansing, Michigan, and await word there."
"Understood," replied MICHAEL.
The agents bought tickets on a small regional plane flying out of Duluth. They were in Lansing by late afternoon. They had barely enough time to rent another vehicle when MICHAEL's cell phone rang. It was ADAM.
"As of an hour ago, the car was in a motel in Mancelona, Michigan." The agents piled into their rental car and sped north out of Lansing along U.S. 10. They hooked onto I-75, and then onto local roads.
They reached a dingy hotel in Mancelona about an hour after night fall. The car was gone.
MURPHY ran into the motel office to talk to the clerk. The clerk informed him that they had just missed the car. The driver checked out about 15 minutes ago. MURPHY asked if the clerk saw which way he had driven. The clerk pointed south. Somehow they had just missed it! MICHAEL rejoined the agents. It occurred to them that the driver was staying off the interstates.
Taking a guess, MAYA drove down the local road where it hooked onto U.S. 131. A few minutes outside of Cadillac, Michigan, the agents spotted the maroon Continental ahead of them, doing the 50 mph speed limit.
The agents had already discussed what they would do. Whoever/whatever was behind the wheels of that car, they were a danger with that "camera" thing. They had to be stopped.
MURPHY pulled out the assault rifle, which he managed to get onto the plane (in checked luggage) using his fake FBI credentials.
MAYA drove closer to the Lincoln. MURPHY aimed the weapon. MAYA got within 20 feet of the maroon car. The driver hadn't noticed.
The bullet slammed into the rear window, shattering it, and buried itself in the driver's shoulder. The car swerved, then accelerated. MAYA raced after it.
Agent MURPHY fired a second shot. The driver slumped over the wheel.
The road curved, slightly, ahead. The Lincoln continued to travel in a straight line. It drove off the road and slammed into a tree. The trunk lid popped open on impact.
Or, at least, at first, it looked like it had slammed into a tree. MAYA pulled their vehicle onto the shoulder and the agents jumped out. They stopped shy of the Lincoln. The tree was buried in the middle of the Lincoln up to the firewall, but there was no damage to the front of the maroon car. The car had phased out of our reality. Why it didn't pass clear through the tree was unclear. Maybe it hadn't completely gone through a teleportation sequence. Maybe there was some other control on the radio that they didn't know about.
A car slowed down to take a look. MICHAEL flashed his badge and waved the car along. Thankfully the traffic was relatively quiet, particularly since MURPHY was checking out the Lincoln while still carrying the H&K assault rifle.
Balls of light fizzed and popped in the passenger compartment. A swirling vortex of reds and blues suddenly appeared inside the trunk. A winged thing, like the dead one MURPHY saw or the live one MICHAEL and MAYA saw, crashed out of the car and headed toward MURPHY. He pulled up the assault rifle and shot it. MAYA ran around to the back of the car to see what was happening.
The vortex became a tunnel. More things — some like the creature that had just escaped, others completely different and in impossible shapes — clawed their way through to this dimension. MURPHY fired again. MAYA joined him in shooting the things coming through the trunk's vortex. MICHAEL rushed up and also fired his pistol.
Ichor in various colours and hues splashed the trunk as they shot, and apparently killed, the first wave of things. But there were more. And, deep in the vortex, there was a howl of something bigger, nastier, and apparently very pissed off.
"There are too many!" cried MAYA as she reloaded.
MICHAEL ran back toward the driver's side door. He smashed the window with his gun. The car was still running, yet another impossibility. The weird humming from the speakers changed over, and over, as though the scan button had been pressed.
MURPHY and MAYA continued to fire. MURPHY slapped his last magazine into the H&K.
MICHAEL looked around. He saw a branch — maybe an inch in diameter — lying near the tree. He picked it up and thrust it through the window. He pushed the yellow button.
Lights cascaded from the car's passenger compartment. The trunk lid slammed shut. There was a bright burst of light. MICHAEL felt some force tugging at the tree branch. He instinctively pulled back.
The light was suddenly gone. The car's engine wheezed and ground to a stop. MICHAEL fell to the ground as the force pulling him forward was suddenly gone.
After their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they stared at the car. The window was intact, now. There was no one inside, dead or otherwise, though the seats were stained with old, dried blood. A faint hiss came from somewhere near the front of the car. MICHAEL's tree branch had been neatly sliced where the window had reappeared.
They inspected the front of the car. It was now solid. More than solid, the tree was now an integral part of the car's structure. The molecules of the engine compartment and the tree had fused.
MICHAEL contacted A Cell on his phone. He described the situation.
"We will send someone out," replied Agent ADAM. "Wait for them."
MICHAEL hung up and relayed the information to the other agents. For the next hour, they waved badges at the few motorists that passed them. Fortunately (or was it really by chance?), no law enforcement vehicles happened by the accident scene.
Two trucks drove up the road, then pulled in behind the agents' rental car. The drivers of the two trucks got out and approached the agents. "We're here for a Mr. Green," said the driver of the lead truck. MICHAEL nodded and motioned toward the car.
The second truck drove up beside the tree. The truck was a white 5 ton, with a large crane-like device mounted on the bed, and a wire-framed trailer behind. The logo on the side of the truck said, "Lansing Landscaping". The driver maneuvered the crane device above the car. He fixed the circular collar of the crane around the trunk of the tree just above the Lincoln's hood. If he was at all perturbed by the tree sticking out of the car, he hid it well. The crane bit off the tree and lifted it over to the trailer, where it was dropped unceremoniously.
The driver of the first truck sprayed some fire suppressant foam underneath the car; there was a fuel leak. He then held a flashlight while the second truck's driver crawled underneath with a chain saw. They cut the tree trunk protruding from the bottom of the engine block.
The landscaping truck pulled out of the way. The first truck, a wrecker with a flat bed, pulled forward and backed up toward the Lincoln. The driver attached a winch to the back of the car and dragged it to the trailer. The winch pulled the car up on to the trailer's bed. The driver cinched down the car so it wouldn't move.
The whole operation took a little more than 30 minutes.
Once on the bed, the two drivers, with the help of the agents, threw a tarp over the vehicle. MURPHY threw the remains of the creature he shot onto the trailer, under the tarp. The truck drivers didn't even comment.
The drivers got into their vehicles. The first driver tapped his forehead in MICHAEL's direction. "Be seeing you." The trucks drove off.
MURPHY gathered up his spent magazines. As far as he was concerned this was standard operating procedure. MICHAEL and MAYA, on the other hand, just stared as the trucks disappeared, south bound.
"Have you ever seen A Cell that... resourceful?" asked MICHAEL? MAYA shook her head.
The agents boarded a plane for Duluth. Once there, they would drive back to Minneapolis for their return trips home.
The only loose ends were in Iron River. Agent ADAM had informed Agent MICHAEL that they would deal with the Wisconsin State Patrol. Officer Turner would be listed as the first victim of a twisted serial killer, but that the FBI managed to stop the man before he could kill anyone else. An FBI report involving the take down of the perpetrator would be entered into FBI files. Other FBI agents would inform Sergeant King of the case's outcome. Officer Turner would be buried with full honours. MICHAEL wasn't to worry, A Cell had it under control.
That didn't answer all of M Cell's questions, though. What was the car? Who was the driver? Where was he taking the vehicle? They might never know.