A Cold Spot

Part 4: Down the Path of Madness

Monday, April 15, 1929:

Charlie has to attend to some shipping business back in Boston, so Esme takes Gerti and Charlie to the train station. Peter, sadly, has food poisoning. Roderick reads his book in the relative peace of Peter's house. The remainder of the group wonders whether the Evil Spirit could be talked to over the telephone (as it does seem to communicate, albeit with some hostility, over the phone). Would it confess its plans to the investigators if they asked it?

"Perhaps if you annoy him enough, he will make a particular effort to possess you. As the person currently at the top of the list, I say, phone away!" -Roderick
Tommy takes to the chalkboard in order to enumerate the current loose ends, but throws up his hands in disgust shortly thereafter.
  1. The old Injuns
  2. The Diary
  3. The Knife
  4. Ezekial's Past
  5. The Phone
  6. The Shipwreck
  7. The Poisoning
  8. The Pond and the Basement
  9. Mattie's Latin
Esme points out that she knows someone in the Harvard archaeology department, who Gerti could speak to about the knife. Except that Gerti doesn't have the knife. Another searching-the-house extravaganza commences: Tommy searches the basement, Eddie searches the grounds and walks the creek. (The water probably went from the pond to the creek approximately along the path of the roads, though the significance of this is unclear). Esme continues to emphasize that the point is not to understand the malign spirit, but to get rid of it. Perhaps an exorcism? Where does one get an exorcist? Is a professional exorcist actually required, or is this the sort of do-it-yourself ritual that anyone can perform? Nobody is quite sure, but Esme thinks children in particular are good at natural exorcisms.

There's some discussion about exactly what Ezekial is planning. "If you used to be a big powerful mage, would you want to come back as a little girl?"

There's a scream! Esme is at Alison's door in an instant. It was just a mouse, she insists, but doesn't open the door. Eddie, arriving at the room shortly afterwards, fast talks her into opening the door and letting Eddie in. Eddie hunts for mice under the dresser (he doesn't find any), while Alison fixes him with a wary eye, and then bolts for the bathroom. Eddie and Amelia get mousetraps to plant in the room, while Esme befriends Alison ("Did you see? He just wanted to search my room!") Esme smiles and nods.

Meanwhile, in the basement, Tommy still hasn't found anything. Eddie and Esme discuss Alison's new disturbance - Esme is pretty sure that Alison specifically didn't want people in her room, while Eddie thinks she was just generally irrational. Eddie calls Dr. Schreber to discuss the turn of events, and the deep voice laughs at them on the phone. Dr. Schreber considers taunting it, but doesn't just yet.

Roderick continues to read his book, and unearths a few more nuggets about the Surani, including that the area they trekked to is "north of the port" (probably Boston). The shipwreck was to the north of Boston too! Perhaps they were related. (Dr. Schreber keeps suggesting Innsmouth, but nobody else thinks it's relevant). There's more searching of the basement. Eddie begins to tip up flagstones with a crowbar. A fish skeleton is discovered! Mattie arrives to help, with a treasure map indicating a specific flagstone to dig under. Digging there turns up some ceramic beads - Eddie is impressed.

Amelia visits Dr. Schreber, who brews her a tonic for her illness/poison. She also discusses Alison, who she's very concerned about. She's becoming increasingly irrational. Dr. Schreber suggests a vacation, or failing being able to convince Alison of that, long walks. Amelia will give it a try. Meanwhile, Esme is luring Alison into a long diatribe against Eddie and Dr. Schreber. "...He's up to it with the German doctor - he didn't want to get his own hands dirty, but those foreigners, they'll do anything for money. He's been spying on us, that's it, learning where we have our valuables, and now he's after them, they'll both murder us in our beds...".

There's some concern that the phone being out will make it difficult to tell if there's a problem somewhere. "If you get a phone call in the middle of the night making terrible threats, it's because we want you." -Roderick

Mattie shows off the treasure-beads to everyone. Eddie asks Julian about the treasure map he drew. How did he know which flagstone to pick? He just drew some lines... well, he had to make sure it was inside the basement, but that was all. (stage whispered: "It's not a real map") Esme tries to talk to Mattie about the joys of library research to learn about beads, but she'd rather be told what the answer is. The group stakes out their various rooms. They consider driving Alison mad before the 30th. Roderick notes that the window in the guest room has opened. Eddie drags Roderick into the other guest room - there's something out the window watching him! Roderick explains, somewhat pedantically, that this is a psychological effect, that the house is watching Eddie from everywhere, but to cope with that feeling, Eddie's subconscious localizes it to be watching from the window.

Tuesday, April 16, 1929:

Back at Peter's, Esme retells Alison's ramblings about Eddie and Dr. Schreber. Eddie draws the cracked mirror that he got a peek at while searching the room for mice. Nobody thinks it seems particularly occultly significant. "She will need to be removed for the family's safety." (Who said this?) Dr. Schreber thinks the important questions are "What is the spirit trying to do, and how?" Esme still thinks the important question is "How do we get rid of it?". After some pondering why Ezekial would want to build his house on the pond (why bother?), two theories are advanced: the pond, as a body of water, was a source of mystic power for the Surani Indians. Or, as it had been used to (presumably) drown Marie, it had residual evil power from the death of an innocent in it. Mr. Bellesby recalls an acquaintance of his, Father MacNamera, a Catholic priest with occultist beliefs. Perhaps they should speak to him! Road trip!

Esme and Tommy are going to stay back at Peter's house (in addition to the still- food- poisoned Peter), while the rest of the group drives to Greenfield in Tommy's car, in order to take the train to Boston. Roderick calls Father MacNamera, and meets him at his parish. The entire story is retold ("Unquiet dead. That's a problem."). Father MacNamera does, as it turns out, know how to perform an exorcism (and no, you can't do it yourself), but it's not something to be performed lightly. Getting the little spirits out might be easier than getting the big one.

Eddie takes the knife to Esme's friend. He says it's American/European in manufacture, around the Colonial era, hand-worked, not a master craftsman. It will probably be impossible, he thinks, to trace it any further, as smiths of the period didn't necessarily keep impeccable and historically preserved written records. Dr. Schreber pokes around in the libraries but doesn't find anything on Ezekial. Charlie investigates the shipwreck, and doesn't turn up much. He resists any efforts to suggest that he walk the entire North Shore looking for clues.

Back in North Ashfield, people mostly take the day off and away from the Apcotts (since Alison seems to be becoming overstressed). About two in the morning, the group at Peter's house is awakened by Amelia banging on the front door. She says that there's been screaming and stuff flying around, and the phone is out. The group charges over - the noise has apparently just stopped. Why are they doing this, Alison demands to know. After a bit of hysterics, everyone is put back to bed (Mattie sleeping in Julian's room). The group puzzles over this new turn of events. Does the spirit want them there, and it's trying to get attention? Or does it not want them there, and it's trying to hide? No one is really sure.

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