Blood Ties

Part 8: Bitter Recriminations

May 7, 1937
At the house in Wellesley, Charlie hears the conversation between Papa Gran and Eddie, then, later, is interrupted with Juliana by the invisible Dr. Schreber. Papa Gran is very upset after the conversation with Dr. Schreber; he tells Charlie to obey, and open his mouth; he spits on a finger and touches it to Charlie's tongue, then puts a drop of blood on his forehead, bloodies his hand, and touches it to his heart. He tells Charlie to obey him in this, because it is his word and his will - if he dies, or Juliana dies, or he thinks they're dead, then he should take the doll, put all the pins in, and then rip its head off. And keep the doll safe until then.

About the only bright side to this is that the new set of compulsions gives Charlie some more wiggle room in his original set of orders. Papa Gran frets for a while and curses and meditates as a snake in the evening (during which time Roderick will become One With The Snake) and then does strange vodoun rituals in the study.

Dr. Schreber tries an opium dream to negotiate with Papa Gran, but bounces off his newly erected protections around the study. Can he describe the house well enough to identify when it got built? Not really. It's beige, and has some gables.

Can the group arrange to give Papa Gran the wrong hair and blood? Something that would cause him trouble would be better than something that just got some other poor random in trouble. What about using Sheila's hair? She doesn't seem to shed any hair, Roderick notes, and doesn't want to suggest it out loud. What exactly was Eddie supposed to do? Go back to Charlie's place in the morning, with the blood and hair. Well, maybe they can bring Dr. Schreber as well as the rest of the party for backup, and see what happens. There is some question as to how much to count on Sheila squishing Papa Gran like a bug if he goes after Dr. Schreber; Roderick seems to think that while it's true, it might be cheating to count on it.

More brainstorming ensues about how to find the house. Night flying is unlikely to be useful; when Tommy proves unable to turn up another plane to borrow, he heads off to spend the night fixing his. How about taking Junior driving in Wellesley and asking him if the snake is left or right? Unfortunately, Junior only really remembers talking to the snake in a field. He doesn't know where the snake is now. Under the bed? In the closet? This mostly sounds like Junior is guessing where he might hide if he was the snake. Roderick thinks maybe someone else should put the snake scales in their mouth and try and sleep, or something. ("It sounds like, if you're very lucky, he might gain some control over you." - Tommy)

Eddie, Roderick, and Dr. Schreber head off to drive around Wellesley - Dr. Schreber can't see much, but Roderick concentrates on holding the snake scales, and then begins to feel some strange kinship with the snake. He puts the scales in his mouth, and has the strange sense that he's both in the car and coiled up in the study. The snake seems to notice something (Roderick tries to think about yummy mice, but it's unclear that these are actually inconspicuous thoughts to a 30-foot shaman-snake). The snake notices, shakes its head a little, and goes and looks in a mirror on the floor. It doesn't seem to see anything useful, and then goes out of the study and grabs Charlie and tries to nudge him into cutting his hand over the mirror. Charlie plays dumb, and the snake gets fed up and bites him, drawing blood. Charlie flees, and the sname smears the blood on the mirror, which now reflects the snake, Papa Gran, Juliana, and Roderick.

"WHO ARE YOU?", Papa Gran mouths. "EZEKIEL APCOTT" Roderick mouths back. There is a little more posturing, but then Roderick takes the scales out of his mouth and breaks the connection. Back in the study, Papa Gran takes the snake's face off, goes and finds Charlie, and cuts the snakebite to keep him from being very poisoned. He then demands to know who this new dreamwalker is. Charlie again plays dumb.

The car fails to find the right house in their random driving-about, and they eventually give up and go home. Esme turns up, and is briefed. ("Charlie is missing? Gerti is in the hospital?")

After Roderick's appearance, Papa Gran is even more worried, and leaves at the crack of dawn to go shopping, telling Charlie "If I am not back, two hours, I am dead." Charlie takes this opportunity to call the Valiant house. Don't kill the guy! It's very important, if he dies it'll kill Gerti. Further interrogation reveals that Charlie has the doll. Isn't that good? No, he's under a compulsion. Charlie gives them the address (101 Evergreen Terrace); everyone piles in the car and drives back to Wellesley.

The group parks near the house. Roderick tries to meditate with the scales, and gets nowhere. Dr. Schreber reminds people that there's some sort of shielding around the house, or at least the study.

Plans are discussed. ("Who is competent at thwapping people over the head?" "Gerti." "And Charlie") Hand signals are arranged for Eddie to make while he sneaks up to the house. He sees Papa Gran getting a spear and net ready. However, both Charlie and Papa Gran spot Eddie; Papa Gran comes back out with spear and net, takes the doll from Charlie, and tells Charlie to protect him.

The mob goes up to the back door; Eddie opens the door, and the mob troops down to the living room. Papa Gran gets GRABBED by Roderick. People attempt to grapple Charlie, who is trying to stop the group from tying Papa Gran up. Charlie says if Dr. Schreber tries to shoot him again (he's tried twice and missed so far) he's going to have to hit him.

Dr. Schreber shoots Papa Gran in the arm, doing a little damage. The Grab gets dropped, and Papa Gran tells Charlie to kill the white-haired one. He tries to tear the head off the Gerti-doll, but Esme and Eddie prevent him from doing it completely; it just tears a little. Tommy grapples Charlie for a little while, then Charlie gets free and starts to pummel Roderick. Dr. Schreber stabs Papa Gran with the spear and says "I told you to let them go." Papa Gran says "You are clever, you could have lived forever. I told you what would happen if you killed me" and tries to rip the head off the doll, which Esme manages partly to stop.

Roderick puts the snake scales in his mouth, hoping to possibly cause some distraction or damage to Papa Gran by becoming one with the snake. However, he accidentally swallows them. Sheila takes the doll from the pile of people grabbing at it, frowns at Dr. Schreber, and puts it in her pocket. Charlie finishes pummeling Roderick into unconsciousness just as Papa Gran looks at Roderick, smiles, and his face falls off; now it's Juliana being grappled with.

Dr. Schreber picks up the face. Juliana screams "Eeek, Charlie, save me!" and Charlie hits Dr. Schreber, who promptly splashes him in the face with acid. Charlie heads to the bathroom; Tommy grabs some vodka and tries to distract him with it, but then Dr. Schreber tries to stab Juliana, which causes some shrieking and Charlie jumps on Juliana to be cover. Eddie starts yelling at Charlie to cut it out. Dr. Schreber agitates for killing Juliana.

Eddie asks Tommy to call the hospital. Esme, checking on the unconscious Roderick, notes that he's regenerating, and tries to figure out why - the snake scales, where are the snake scales?

Charlie asks Juliana what he should do. Juliana says to kill the nasty man. Charlie gets up and heads for Dr. Schreber; Eddie shoots him in the head, and Dr. Schreber shoots him in the leg. He falls down. Dr. Schreber menaces Juliana with the spear again, saying "Don't say a thing", and then stuffs a handkerchief in her mouth. Ignoring the bleeding-to-death Charlie for the pummeled and unconscious Roderick, Dr. Schreber notes that Roderick is healing, and that he had been choking on something. Probably the snake scales.

Dr. Schreber asks Sheila if destroying the face is sufficient? Sheila thinks without a face dancer the face isn't much use, But Roderick should be watched. Roderick is resilient, but Papa Gran is stubborn.

Esme gets sent to look for Timmy, who is hiding in the bedroom listening to the screaming. Eddie looks for a phone to call the hospital, since Tommy was distracted by the gunshots. Dr. Schreber finds the other faces in the study, and throws them on the fire. Tommy rubs some bullets on Juliana's wound. Eddie determines that Gerti is back in intensive care, with more hemorrhaging and a strange muscular spasm. Juliana makes an angry noise upon hearing that Gerti is alive. Dr. Schreber campaigns again for killing Juliana - given time, she'll just make another doll.

"Just kill her." - Dr. Schreber
"What state will that leave Charlie in?" - Eddie
"Without her telling him what to do, he won't be a danger, and I can deal with the rest." - Dr. Schreber
Eddie and Tommy confer about whether they should kill Juliana. Eventually, Esme is sent out the back with Timmy, and then the unconscious bodies (Roderick and Charlie) are carried to other car. Tommy returns to mutter about how to dispose of bodies. Dr. Schreber, taking this as permission, stabs Juliana until she dies. Bullets get pulled out of the body, and out of walls; the net and spear get taken.

Dr. Schreber suggests dropping the boy off at an orphanage before Charlie wakes up. Everyone else seems to think Charlie and Gerti should have a say in the matter. Roderick, waking up in the car, remembers that he swallowed the snake scales. Dr. Schreber says he'll have to have his stomach pumped.

The group heads to Arkham, the better to deal with the possibly still brainwashed Charlie, and to medically treat the wounded. One half-dissolved snake scale is recovered from pumping Roderick's stomach, and Dr. Schreber does some surgery on Charlie. Roderick thinks about whether the snake guy is in him - upon reflection, he has some insights into how face dancing works. Charlie gets woken up eventually; he's still under the adoration/obedience compulsion, but there aren't any standing orders. He says he's fine. Dr. Schreber says he's not. There's some psychotherapy, which involves a lot of drugs, and trying to set off as many of Charlie's psych lims as possible, and also involves a lot of profanity directed at Dr. Schreber. Roderick goes to visit Gerti first, and clue dumps on her. (Sheila has the doll. Oh, that's reassuring.)

Charlie is eventually out of restraints. He retrieves Timmy, and reassures him that they're not to kill him. Charlie talks to Gerti about Timmy; Gerti is, as always, serene.

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