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Monday, 23rd June, 2008, 02:17 AM #201
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Grey Matter: Part 3a – The Alien
They entered the refrigerated film vault. Servers flanked the walls, beeping and humming. Along one wall were gas masks behind a glass-proof case. But it was the object in the center that was the focus.
A five-foot long cryogenic tube lay flat, taking up much of the room. A small fold-up table was the only other piece of furniture.
The reinforced door whisked closed behind them, locking into place.
Jim-Bean plunked his medical bag and his lunch bag on the table. Snapping on plastic gloves and a mask, he turned to the cryogenic tube.
“I don’t suppose you can open this thing?”
Goodrich sighed and placed his hand over a button on the side of the tube. “I’m legally obligated to note for the record that we are not making any attempt to influence your observation of the corpse. You are an independent entity and have not been coerced to form any opinions on the subject.”
Jim-Bean nodded impatiently and waved at Goodrich to open the thing already.
Goodrich pressed the button and the opaque shield slid open.
The Grey’s corpse was laid out limb-stiff in the tube. Its lidless eyes stared at the ceiling. Jim-Bean hesitated only for a moment before he started probing it. He took out measuring tape from his bag and extended it.
“Subject is four feet long with gray skin,” said Jim-Bean. “Body is elongated and lacking in muscular definition. The legs are shorter and jointed differently than a human—must have an awkward gait.” He lifted one arm, twisting it this way and that. “Hands have three digits and a thumb.” Jim-Bean let the arm drop with a thud. Goodrich frowned.
“Subject has a bulbous, hairless head supported by a thin neck. The head is dominated by large, black lidless eyes.” He roughly jerked the head to and fro. “It has a small flat nose, tiny mouth and small ears.”
“Please be careful with it,” said Goodrich.
“Hello, what’s this?” Jim-Bean leaned over to take a look at the Grey’s forehead. There were several odd indentations. “Interesting.”
Behind him, Hammer’s eyes widened.
A black phone on the wall beeped twice. The security guard picked it up. “Mr. Goodrich? There’s another expert here to see the body.”
Goodrich stalked over to the guard and snatched the receiver from him.
Hammer typed furiously into his cistron. Jim-Bean’s cistron, set to vibrate, hummed in response.
Jim-Bean fished it out of his pocket. It read. “PROBLEM.”
“?” typed Jim-Bean back.
“HOLES IN HEAD,” responded Hammer.
Goodrich was barking angrily into the phone. He didn’t like unannounced guests.
“Y?” tapped Jim-Bean, growing annoyed.
“HEALED,” Hammer typed back.
Before Jim-Bean could respond, Goodrich turned his key in tandem with the security guard and the next expert walked through the door.
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Tuesday, 24th June, 2008, 01:06 AM #202
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Grey Matter: Part 3b – The Alien
A dark-haired man wearing glasses in a black suit entered, followed by a pretty blonde in a pencil skirt and two security thugs in gray suits and sunglasses. The door whisked shut behind them.
“Doctor Van Oberschmeier,” he said, brushing past Goodrich. “Who iz this?”
“That’d be Doctor Chan,” said Goodrich, careful to avoid saying his full name. “I’m surprised you don’t know him.”
Oberschmeier smiled. “Of course, of course. I just didn’t recognize him from his picture.”
Oberschmeier’s blonde assistant scribbled notes furiously behind him. One of the security guards plopped a medical kit on the other side of the room. The assistant took out plastic gloves and snapped them onto Oberschmeier’s outstretched hands.
“Are you done inspecting ze corpse, Herr Doctor?” he asked, looking Jim-Bean up and down.
“Not yet,” said Jim-Bean. “But my preliminary observations indicate that this is nothing more than a movie prop. A very advanced movie prop, but a movie prop nonetheless.”
“I’ll be ze judge of dat,” snapped Obeschmeier. “My specialty is pulmonary and circulatory systems.” He took hold of the corpse’s wrist and lifted it.
“Sure, right. I think—“
“Tell me, Herr Doctor. As a plastic surgeon you must know something about ze pulmonary system. Have you found any evidence of capillaries in ze fingertips?” He held up the three-fingered hand.
Jim-Bean lowered his mask. “That’s a trick question. It’s a dummy. It doesn’t have a circulatory system.”
“Oh quite ze contrary. I see evidence here dat it does indeed have such a system—“
BEEP-BEEP, went somebody’s cistron.
Jim-Bean looked at Hammer. Hammer shrugged at Jim-Bean. They had both put their cistrons on vibrate. And yet there was a distinctive ring to their cistrons that was unmistakable.
Oberschmeier looked at his assistant.
“Is somebody going to get that?” asked Goodrich in irritation.
Oberschmeier cleared his throat and nodded at the assistant. She reached into the bag and clicked something. The beeping stopped.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you all to hand over any communication devices. Part of our security procedure.”
Hammer and Jim-Bean dutifully handed over their cistrons. One of Oberschmeier’s men fished out four identical communicators and handed them over to Goodrich.
Goodrich peered at the cistrons. “Hey, you all have the same cell phones…”
Oberschmeier reached into his suit jacket and drew a pistol, pointing it at Jim-Bean. “Figures Sprague would send his people in to clean up his own little mess.”
In a flash, Goodrich’s pistol was out, aimed at Oberschmeier.
Oberschmeier’s guards drew their pistols and pointed at Jim-Bean and Hammer.
Goodrich’s security guard drew his pistol and shakily aimed it from one man to the other.
Oberschmeier’s assistant drew a pistol and pointed at the guard.
Jim-Bean cowered behind the folding table. “What is wrong with you people?!”
Hammer drew his pistol and aimed it at the alien corpse. “Everybody calm down or I shoot it.”
Goodrich’s brow was furrowed, still trying to figure out what the hell was going on. “You’ve got to be kidding…”
“I don’t like to kill team members,” said Oberschmeier, “but I will if you don’t put the gun down in the next five seconds.”
“I bet your superiors will be pissed when they find out you killed a Grey,” replied Hammer.
Obserchmeier laughed. “You can’t kill what’s already—“
Then the Grey sat up.
Wednesday, 25th June, 2008, 01:19 AM #203
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Grey Matter: Part 3c – The Alien
It was unclear who fired first. The security guard jerked backwards even as his shot went wide, grazing one of the rival team’s guards. Hammer ducked down behind the cryogenic tube as gunfire peppered the air over him.
Goodrich, a crack shot, finished off the wounded thug and then dove behind the tube along with Hammer. The cistrons clattered to the floor.
Jim-Bean picked them up and deposited them in his bag.
“It doesn’t have to be like this!” snarled the agent formerly known as Oberschmeier.
Klaxons went off and whirling yellow lights descended from four corners of the room.
The unmistakable hissing of gas permeated the gunfire. Everyone stopped firing.
“What the hell is that?” shouted Hammer.
“HALON system,” barked Goodrich. He started crawling towards the gas masks on the wall.
Jim-Bean grabbed a gas mask out of his larger bag and tossed it to Hammer.
The other agents all dove for Oberschmeier’s medical bag.
Goodrich smashed the window, donned a gas mask, and crawled back to the other side of the cryogenic tube.
Jim-Bean came up out of the bag with a gas mask on and a tear grenade in one hand. He lifted it triumphantly, ready to pull the pin.
When he looked around, the Grey alien was staring back at him, the same blank expression on its face. The rival agents on the far side of the room were all wearing gas masks. And wielding shotguns.
“Oh crap,” said Jim-Bean.
Friday, 27th June, 2008, 11:40 AM #204
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Grey Matter: Part 3d – The Alien
Smoke and halon gas filled the room, making identifying targets nearly impossible. Shotgun blasts blindly tore into the cryogenic tube, rocking it several feet backwards. Hammer ducked around the left side and squeezed off several shots.
The Grey’s vacant gaze focused on the blonde assistant. She grunted with exertion as her own limbs betrayed her. After a brief struggle, she tore off her own gas mask. The agent fell to the ground, wheezing.
Jim-Bean grabbed his two bags. “We have to get out of here!” He shouted through his gas mask to Goodrich.
Goodrich fired his pistol into the smoke and backed up to the door. Jim-Bean crawled over to the security guard’s dead body and yanked the key off the corpse’s neck.
More blasts echoed in the chamber. Servers sparked as they were perforated by shotgun shells.
Goodrich plugged his key into the wall. Jim-Bean felt his way up the wall and found the opening for the key. He plugged it in.
Hammer dragged the cryogenic tube backwards on its wheels, firing around the Gray who sat placidly amidst the chaos.
Hammer swung the cryogenic tube around, his back to his assailants for a terrifying moment. He was relying on the smoke, confusion, and maybe even the Grey to keep him safe.
They turned the keys and Hammer shoved the tube forward.
The door whisked open. Two security guards who stood in the doorway were rammed out of the way. Hammer hopped onto the back of the tube and, like a kid riding a shopping cart, rode it through the crowd of guards outside of the vault.
Jim-Bean came through next. He tore off his mask. “Get in there, your boss is trapped!”
The two nearest security guards looked at each other in shock and then rushed forward just as Goodrich tried to exit.
“Get out of the way you morons!” screamed Goodrich.
“Lunch time!” shouted Jim-Bean. He tossed his lunch bag over the heads of the two guards.
“Nooo—“ was all Goodrich got out before the reinforced door slammed shut again.
The remaining security guards aimed their pistols at Jim-Bean. He turned to face them, something clenched in his fist.
“Put the weapon down!” shouted one of the guards.
“It’s not a weapon,” said Jim-Bean. He clicked the detonator with his thumb.
The ensuing blast in the reinforced film vault turned the doorway into a cannon. The door shrieked off its moorings, tearing through the crowd of security guards and blasting a path to freedom.
Jim-Bean stepped over the unconscious bodies and corpses on his way to the exit.
Saturday, 28th June, 2008, 02:03 AM #205
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Grey Matter: Part 3e – The Alien
Jim-Bean and Hammer loaded the Gray’s cylinder into the back of the van, which they had parked in the parking garage. It never said a word, just staring at them with unblinking eyes.
Jim-Bean hopped into the driver’s seat and hit the gas. The van lurched forward towards the exit even as sirens wailed in the distance.
“Now what?” asked Hammer.
“We’ve got to get rid of it.”
They exited onto the street, passing ambulances, fire engines, and police cars.
“Get rid of it how?”
“I dunno. We’ve got C-4 mate, it’s not hard to figure it out.”
“You mean kill him?”
Jim-Bean’s eyes were on the road. “Him? Are you pissing me? It’s barely an IT!”
There was the telltale sound of a pistol being cocked. Cold metal pressed against Jim-Bean’s temple.
“I can’t let you do that.”
Jim-Bean didn’t turn his head, trying to keep the van on the road. “What in the bloody hell is wrong with you?”
“Our mission was to remove the Grey. That’s what we did. We’re returning him to Majestic-12.”
“Return it? Are you barmy? We were supposed to eliminate all evidence!”
“That’s not what I heard.”
“Well I know what I heard, and I don’t think putting a pistol to my head was part of the mission.”
“I can’t let you harm him,” Hammer repeatedly mechanically.
“Listen to yourself, mate. It got inside your head! That’s not you talking…”
The doors to the van swung open. There was a thump-thump in the back.
“Damn it!” Jim-Bean slammed on the brakes.
The cylinder rolled behind the van. A winged blur of flashing, multi-colored lights swooped down and, grabbing hold of the cylinder, soared upwards again into what looked like a cloud. With a flash, it was gone.
Sunday, 29th June, 2008, 09:44 PM #206
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Grey Matter - Conclusion
Sprague, his feathered gray-blonde hair spiked like a bird of prey, was sitting patiently when Warner entered. Like Sprague, Warner was a military man. Unlike Sprague, he was a ten-year veteran of the Army who wasn’t yet considered washed up. His military buzz cut gave him a lean and hungry look.
Warner sat down across from Sprague. Sprague waited.
“We have ascertained RAGDOLL’s final position, but…”
“Yes?” asked Sprague.
“The wreckage at the Axelrod Building is substantial. It'll be some time before anything's recovered.”
Sprague allowed a sympathetic smile. “This has been a terrible tragedy, Lieutenant Warner. And I can only stress that if you'd notified me earlier, it might have been avoided.”
“I appreciate your candor in the matter,” said Warner, death in his eyes.
“And I yours, Neal.”
“Perhaps in the future technology will allow a more thorough investigation of the wreckage,” said Warner.
“There is another matter,” began Warner, “one that I'm reluctant to...”
“Please,” said Sprague with an encouraging gesture. “Go on.”
“One of my teams was last reported in the area near the Axelrod Building. I have not heard from them for some time.”
“Neal,” said Sprague with a sneer, “first Platte, now the Axelrod Building. You’ve got to stop losing teams like this.”
Warner cleared his throat.
“My men found this.” Sprague reached into a drawer and lifted a bag out of it. “Maybe it will help.” He upended the bag’s contents and four cistrons clattered out of it.
Warner slowly picked them up in turn. It was the cistrons belonging to the agents from X-Team: Knox, Maverick, Ghost Bear, and Knockdown. Without a word, he walked towards the exit.
“You should keep better track of your agents,” said Sprague calmly before he left. To his credit, Warner shut the door behind him without slamming it.
Sprague picked up the phone. It was time to track down one of his own.
Monday, 30th June, 2008, 04:02 PM #207
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Chapter 14: Nemo Solus Sapit - Introduction
This scenario, “Nemo Solus Sapit,” is a Cthulhu Now supplement “The Stars Are Right” by John Tynes. Guppy can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!
Our cast of characters includes:
In chapter twelve, quite a bit of damage was inflicted to the campaign’s overall theme of secrecy and the paranormal. When an Indian agent single-handedly rescues a jet from a terrorist attack by strapping a bomb to his chest and parachuting to safety, it’s bound to get some attention. I had originally envisioned the agents resolving the event by landing the plane, but as always my players surprise me.
- Game Master: Michael Tresca
- Hank “Guppy” Gupta (Smart Hero) played by Joseph Tresca
- Kurtis "Hammer" Grange (Fast Hero) played by George Webster
- Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero/Telepath) played by Jeremy Ortiz
So I rolled with it. Two things happened as a result of that scenario: 1) Majestic-12 is even more pissed at the agents and decided to punish them, and 2) a major news outlet (GNN) took a personal interest in Guppy. This leads up to a scenario that I’ve been eager to run for years now: committing one of the agents to an insane asylum.
That’s right, Guppy’s going right back to where he started, an asylum. Has he been committed? Disavowed? Is he really nuts? This scenario required a bit of flipping back and forth between the agents investigating the disappearance of Guppy and Guppy trying to survive in the sanitarium.
The original version of the scenario suffered from much the same problem I have with a lot of the modern scenarios for Call of Cthulhu: they’re chock full of really interesting ideas and characters, but no clear way to introduce them. There are two cultists with personality disorders that don’t really come up in play unless the agents happen to stumble upon them at precisely the right moment. The horror of their insanity isn’t amped up; in fact, the horror of Damon Newcomb’s mental illness seems to hinge almost entirely on the fact that the man is willing to eat a cat. And ultimately there’s no big reveal – the conflict between the two bad guys just happens to the agents and they’re expected to escape (or not) rather than there being an actual resolution to the plot.
How did I resolve it? By my usual hack tactics: I ripped off the movie script of the awful Halle Berry movie Gothika. I have this theory that bad horror movies make for great scenarios, and Gothika is no exception. By dividing up the scripted events amongst characters on the inside and the outside of the asylum, the plot of Gothika actually fits better for this scenario and gives the agents on the outside something to do.
There’s something of a metagame philosophy to the original version of this scenario, with the assumption that one of the players is co-opted to be part of the occult conspiracy. As a player, I dislike this tremendously; I’ve had it happen in two different campaigns to my character, and in both the betrayal felt more like the other player being a jerk and less like a major contribution to the narrative. Instead, I’d much rather have the player suffer through being in an insane asylum rather than simply have him gobbled up by the bad guy and used as a foil.
I used audio files from Session 9, one of the scariest horror movies ever. If you’re a fan of horror, YOU MUST GO OUT AND RENT RIGHT NOW. It too, deals with an asylum and the tapes help flesh out poor, pathetic Damon.
Defining Moment: When the Shan starts jumping bodies, it takes the combined efforts of Guppy, Jim-Bean, and Hammer to take it down.
Tuesday, 1st July, 2008, 10:29 PM #208
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit - Prologue
Ever since he returned to the United States, Guppy was a hunted man. He was a celebrity, claimed by the Indian government as one of their agents, denounced by the Pakistanis as a rabble-rouser, and denied by the U.S. as having anything to do with CIFA at all. GNN had taken a peculiar interest in him and it seemed like they were dedicated to tracking down his identity.Yes I'm alone, but then again I always was
As far back as I can tell
I think maybe it's because you never were really real to begin with
I just made you up to hurt myself
--Only by Nine Inch Nails
Guppy was returning to base when a van suddenly screeched in front of him. He slammed on the brakes.
Out hopped a news team pointing a camera at his head. A pretty blonde stepped out and shoved a microphone in his face.
“Mr. Gupta! Margaret Ellens, Global News Network: Is it true that you’re the agent who single-handedly saved Indianational 270?”
Guppy threw the car in reverse, backed up, and tore around the GNN crew. He couldn’t go back to base using his normal route.
As dusk fell, Guppy suspected he had a tail – at least a few times he thought he saw someone pointing a camera at him from the passenger side of the pursuing vehicles.
He slowed down at the sight of colored lights up ahead.
A knocked-down telephone post blocked the road. Emergency vehicles were at the scene. A patrolman waved him down.
“Telephone post just decided to fall. It'll take us a while to clear this up so I'm afraid you’re gonna have to take the long way home.”
Guppy drove down a curvy road toward an old bridge. There was something definitely creepy about the deserted place. He checked his mirror to see if he was still being followed…
And looked back just in time to see an older woman standing smack in front of the car. Naked. And about to be hit by his vehicle.
Guppy swerved to avoid her and slammed his car into the railing.
Metal screeched as Guppy struggled to regain control of the car and finally broke to a halt.
Guppy looked in his rearview mirror: the woman was standing back there. He guessed she was drunk or high, and in any case completely out of it. He stepped out of the car.
“Lady, are you crazy?”
As he got closer, Guppy could see that the woman was covered in bruises. Clearly something horrible had happened to her. She was probably in her forties, and had a busted lip and black eye.
The woman suddenly gripped Guppy’s arm, hard. She reached out to touch his face. Her movements were desperate, smothering. Like the movements of a drowning person.
“Hey!” shouted Guppy.
The woman tried to speak but no words coame out. Instead she produced a strained, wettish sound. Suddenly she was prying Guppy’s mouth open and she was much stronger than he expected…
The woman opened her own mouth wide like a snake. And as Guppy muffled a scream, blood started leaking out of the woman’s eye sockets and from wounds all over her body.
Thursday, 3rd July, 2008, 03:27 AM #209
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 1 –The Mission
SAMSON, CA--“So what was this important mission Sprague pulled you off of?” asked Hammer.
Jim-Bean took a long drag from his cigarette. “Remember the brain spiders?”
“How can I forget them?”
Jim-Bean nodded . “Right. Remember how we were supposed to be partners?”
“You may have noticed I’ve been gone a lot. I’ve been tracking those bloody things down, one in particular. It was in a serial killer in the Severn Valley, named Simon Slater.”
“The brain spiders have names?”
“They’re called Shan. And yes, they have names. We call him Simon. All the Shan believe in some kind of weird god known as Xada-hgla. But Simon, he was a heretic even for the Shan. He worships a different version known as Azathoth, the nuclear chaos.”
“Yeah, it’s barmy I know.” Jim-Bean took another puff, staring out at the setting sun. “In the seventies, Simon was fond of killing people with a walking stick. He got his own nickname and everything: the Cane Killer. But then he disappeared. I was able to pick up on his trail again in San Francisco, California, in 1983. There was a series of murders at a sorority house in which six girls were murdered by a walking stick.”
“So he hopped bodies?”
“Yah, think so. The cane is unmistakable, made of a very odd material we’ve never been able to identify. I’ve seen pictures but nobody’s ever recovered it. It was used in the killings in the Severn Valley and then in San Francisco.”
“But something stopped him.”
“A bit of fluff named, Katy Rose. Who’d have thunk, eh?”
“But you never retrieved the cane?”
“No cane. She married Jared Newcomb a year later and had a child, Damon Newcomb. When he was twelve, Damon’s records were sealed. His parents died in a mysterious accident.”
“Let me guess,” said Hammer. “They were murdered with a walking stick.”
Jim-Bean shrugged. “Don’t know. But I think Simon got smart enough to avoid using his signature weapon.”
“Wait a minute…you’re saying Simon the brain-bug hopped from Slater’s body to Katy, and then from Katy to her son?”
“Right. A bit squicky if you think about it.”
Hammer blanched. “I’d rather not.”
“The trail went cold after that. For all I know Damon’s dead and Simon hopped to a new body. And yet…”
“I’ve been having some really strange dreams. A nightmare, actually. It involves an older woman, but it also involves Guppy.”
“Guppy? You think he’s alive?”
“I don’t believe in any of that mumbo-jumbo. Probably some messed up part of my psyche. But anyway, in the nightmare the woman holds a box in her left hand. It’s a small box. And she repeats a series of numbers.”
“Just a dream.” Hammer shrugged. “Everybody has them.”
“I’ve had this dream for ten days straight. Whoever she is, this woman’s getting insistent. She repeats the same series of numbers too.”
“Sounds like a date,” said Hammer.
Jim-Bean rubbed out his cigarette. “That’s bloody brilliant! I’ve been trying to puzzle that out…”
Their cistrons beeped. Jim-Bean’s cistron shrieked, “Tacos! I need tacos or I’ll explode!”
Hammer’s hand reflexively went for his pistol. “Jesus, why’d you change your ring to that?”
“Invader Zim. After that last incident I thought it might be a good idea for us to have different rings.”
“Point taken.” Hammer looked down. “Someone sent us an address to a bank in San Francisco.”
The note read, “Since you found something I lost, I’m returning the favor.”
“Think that’s from Drake?” asked Hammer.”
Jim-Bean shook his head. “Sprague. Bet that’ll lead us to Guppy.” Jim-Bean read off his own cistron. “Looks like he’s repaying us for saving his ass.”
Thursday, 3rd July, 2008, 12:17 PM #210
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 2 –The Van Dyson Center
Guppy woke up in a cold sweat. It was all just a bad dream.
Faint at first but growing louder, Guppy could hear a repetitive sound outside, like an echo of some sort, but vaguely familiar: thwip, thwip, thwip.
Guppy glanced around the room and realize it was not his bedroom.
He climbed off the bed and walked in the dark, tripping over something. A tray clanged loudly.
Guppy felt his way along the wall to a small opening in the door. A glass pane.
He peered through the glass at the empty corridor outside, realizing what it meant…he was inside a cell.
The door opened and Hector walked in. Guppy knew Hector from before; he was the Majestic-12 friendly who had smuggled him out of the Van Dyson Center.
“Hello Hank. I’m Hector.” Hector showed no signs of recognizing him. “It’s time to take your meds.”
“Wait a minute,” said Guppy, his voice rising. “Hector, where am I? What is going on?”
“No, I want to know what’s going!” shouted Guppy. “The last thing I knew I was driving along trying to avoid a news crew and then there’s this naked woman and she grabbed me by the mouth and—“
“Hank, are you going to be difficult?” asked Hector with the disapproving tone reserved for a child.
“Difficult? I’m not being difficult! I’m trying to figure out what the hell is going on here!”
There was a knock at the door. Petrov Van Dyson, Hank’s old doctor, entered. He nodded to Hector.
“It’s okay, I’ll take it from here.” Van Dyson turned back to Guppy. “How do you feel, Hank?”
“I feel like I don’t know what is going on here!” He sat down on the bed. “The last thing I remember is this naked woman. She was bleeding from her eyes…”
Van Dyson was half-listening to him, half-signaling to Hector. Guppy noticed he was wearing the uniform all patients wore: a white T-shirt and sweats.
“Now Hank, I’m going to give you something to calm down.”
Van Dyson grabbed the meds from Hector. “Just take this and we can sit down and chat.”
“What? I don’t need medication!”
Van Dyson cleared his throat. “Now Hank. I understand you had an experience. But you have to look at it from our perspective. You’re obviously very distraught. We can’t have a rational conversation until you calm down, and the valium will help.”
“How many milligrams is that?” asked Guppy weakly.
“Just twenty. Enough to take the edge off. Take the pills and then we can talk.”
Guppy sighed and nodded.
Van Dyson handed him the pills and a plastic cup of water. After Guppy swallowed it, he motioned for Hector to leave.
“Hank, this is very awkward. Technically I shouldn't even be treating you, but the court has granted us a waiver until you’re transferred. So whatever is said here won't leave this room. Let me ask you a question: How long have you been here?”
“What? I just woke up in here!”
“Just answer the question. Humor me.”
“I…I don’t know. A few hours?”
“You’ve been here five days, Hank. You were admitted to the neurosurgical unit seizing violently. That lasted three days. Scans revealed left-sided weakness, numbness and severe frontal lobe deficits. You came out of it and tested negative for PCP, underwent extensive hypnosis and received amytal injections.”
Guppy looked down at his wrists. They had reddish marks.
“You were tied down for a day and a half so you wouldn't hurt yourself and then you went into a state of, well – you’ve been pretty much catatonic. This is the first time you spoke. Do you remember what you were doing before you ended up here?”
“I was driving along. I think I was being followed. When I looked up there was this woman. She was naked. I got out to try to help her, but she grabbed me. She was so strong…and then I blacked out.”
Van Dyson sighed. “When you left us here, you were transferred to Arkham Asylum. Against my wishes, granted; and I see I was right.”
“Right about what?” asked Guppy with rising dread.
“You escaped. You killed an orderly, Hank. You said you thought he was an alien. You shot him dead. Then, you climbed a clock tower with a homemade bomb strapped to your chest and threatened to blow yourself up. You kept ranting about being a government agent, and that him wanted the government to admit the truth…”
“I don’t remember that!” but Guppy remembered something similar. His last mission. The one that got him into so much trouble in the first place. Could he have completely imagined it? Did he ever really leave the safety of the mental health system?
“There was indeed an accident. The police gave you a vehicle as per your demands, but you crashed it in a gully. I’m sorry Hank, there was no report of any woman.” He patted Guppy’s hand. “Rest now. The sedatives should help. I’m just glad you’re once again among the living.”
As Guppy slunk back onto the stiff bed, he wasn’t so sure.