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Friday, 4th July, 2008, 01:08 PM #211
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 3 – The Tapes
A solemn guard placed the safety deposit box on the table in the middle of the room. He stepped back through the gate and waited.
“Great, it requires a code,” said Hammer.
Jim-Bean said the numbers out loud as he punched them in. “October twenty second, two thousand and one.”
He sorted through some paperwork that meant nothing until his hands felt a thick envelope. Jim-Bean opened it and spilled the contents on the table. Audio tapes.
The deposit box contained audio transcripts of Van Dyson’s dialogue with Newcomb. The return address listed Dyson’s home address.
“According to these records,” said Hammer, reading from a sheet, “Damon Newcomb had multiple personalities: Billy, The Princess, and…Simon.”
Jim-Bean slapped the dashboard. “I knew it!”
“Looks like Damon was dressed as a little girl until he was eight,” said Hammer. “His mother called him Mary.”
They listened to the tapes as they drove back down to Van Dyson’s home in Samson.
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Saturday, 5th July, 2008, 01:54 PM #212
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 4 – The Cell
Guppy woke with a start. The darkness rendered the room almost void of any color. It took Guppy a moment to orient himself.
His eyes wandered across the unfamiliar room. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched.
Then he heard it. A ragged breathing sound, like someone standing over his bed. But he didn’t see anything.
Guppy gingerly crossed to the door and peeked through the glass partition into the empty corridor. He glanced back at the room, and still saw nothing.
There was the sound of footsteps approaching. A light switched on down the corridor. The footsteps got closer and closer, until they stopped right outside the door.
Guppy recoiled from the door, waiting.
A key entered the lock and jiggled it. The door didn’t open. He could make out a shadow at the glass partition.
After a minute where nothing happened, Guppy crept back to the door. He slowly inched up to the glass to peer through it.
A pair of piercing eyes met his gaze. It was the woman who had caused his car crash.
He fell back with a yelp.
Faintly at first, but growing louder, footsteps once again approached his door. He crept back to his bed, terrified. Guppy squeezed his eyes shut and…
Everything flashed white. Color returned.
Hector was standing over him.
“Rise and shine, Hank!” shouted Hector.
Hector tried to shake Guppy awake. An orderly and nurse stood by.
“That means you, Hank. Up -- !”
Guppy sat up, clutching his head. He didn’t feel right.
Hector reached out his hand and the nurse placed a cup with meds on it. “Time for your meds. You can either do this the easy way or the hard way.”
Guppy was done fighting. He took the pills without comment.
And outside, he heard the sound, faint at first but growing louder. It was a repetitive sound, like an echo of some sort. Thwip, thwip, thwip.
Later in the day, Guppy wandered into the rec room. It contained a television and DVDs, an audio system, and places to talk and eat. The back walls of the room were glass-paneled, providing a comforting view of the wilds surrounding the clinic. Doors led to a pleasant outdoor patio where patients could rest and chat.
The male patients performed their regular activities: Some watched television, played dominoes, some pretended to read, some stared out blankly.
Damon Newcomb wandered over to Guppy.
“Back so soon? You're not like, undercover here, are you?” He squinted at Guppy. “They pulled that at Arkham, had a bunch of doctors pretend they were patients, see if they could handle it. Most quit after day one. You're not, are you?”
He handed Guppy paper and some crayons and whispered, “Drawing is a great cover. Good luck to you.”
With a wink, he was gone.
Sunday, 6th July, 2008, 02:53 PM #213
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 5 – The First Audio Tape
“Hello, Billy,” said Van Dyson on the tape. “How have you been?”
“Never better, sir,” came a strange, child-like voice.
“Billy, where does the Princess live?”
“In the tongue.”
“Why the tongue?”
“Because she's always talking, sir.”
“And where do you live?”
“I live in the eyes,” said Damon with Billy’s voice. “You know that.”
“Remind me,” replied Van Dyson. “Why the eyes?”
“Because I see everything.”
“And where does Simon live?”
Monday, 7th July, 2008, 02:41 AM #214
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 6 – The Showers
Patients undressed in the bare-bones locker area. Hector handed Guppy a bar of soap and towel.
“You go in last because you're special.” He caught Guppy’s look. “It's not a Mexican prison. Everybody here minds their own business. State law says we keep you boys clean. And I'm a stickler for the law. Now come on. If you go downtown, you gotta dance.”
The shower, like everything else in the Van Dyson Center, was regulated in shifts so that various groupings of patients each got their turn.
Hector checked his watch. “That's five minutes, group one. Alright, boys, nice and easy.”
The first group of bathers filed out, dripping wet, past Guppy, in all shapes and sizes. Each had their own scars and tattoos, like maps of troubled souls: names of women, places, religious quotes. Burn scars, cuts, needle marks. They began to towel off as Guppy, slowly and painfully self-conscious, undressed in the corner. A moment later Hector nodded for him to go in.
Guppy hung his head under the spray and closed his eyes, trying to shut it all out. The sounds of the Van Dyson Center slowly faded out until all he heard was his own ragged breathing.
Looking down at the water dripping into the drain, Guppy caught sight of a hole in the tile where a busted water pipe poked out. Clearly at some point there was a handle there, but now it was just a hole with a busted pipe.
As he looked closer, a perfectly formed globule of blood emerged from the pipe, following by a gurgling sound that seemed to come from deep in the bowels of the plumbing system.
The blood lingered tentatively, as if unfamiliar with the laws of gravity, before tracing an upward line along the tile.
The gurgling grew louder, closer, and then more blood flowed from the hole and spread up the wall.
Guppy looked away, disturbed. There was no one else in the showers.
When he looked down again, the blood streaming from the pipe had formed five letters written in blood. N-O-T-A-L.
Shaking, nauseous, Guppy focused on his feet and the drain, too scared to look back up.
Blood dripped by his ankle. Suddenly, a shooting pain laced his arm.
“What the hell…?” asked Guppy.
Sharp slashes appeared on Guppy’s skin, like some invisible knife was slicing his arm.
There was a shout behind him. “What did you do?”
Orderlies rushed in to haul him away.
Hector grabbed Guppy’s arm and held it up. “What the hell did you do to yourself?!”
Perfectly carved into Guppy’s arm, the scar read: "NOT ALONE."
Tuesday, 8th July, 2008, 11:47 AM #215
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 7 – The Second Audio Tape
“Billy, you understand that you, the Princess and Simon are all in Damon?” asked Van Dyson on the tape.
“Yes,” replied Damon’s sing-song voice.
“If Damon is sick, then all of you are sick. You want Damon to get better, huh?”
“Yes!” said Billy/Damon, his voice rising.
“So, help him. Tell me about the night in Samson.”
Damon’s voice quivered. “We were playing hide n' seek. Simon was looking for his toy and Peter -- It was real dark.” Suddenly Billy turned hysterical. “No, I won't tell! Simon’s a good boy. He doesn't need to know!”
“What?” prodded Van Dyson.
“What Simon did!”
“What did Simon do to Peter?”
“I won't tell!” shouted Billy.
“Tell me,” said Van Dyson. “I need to talk to Simon.”
“He made me do it,” wailed Billy. “It was awful!”
“We need to wake up Simon.”
“No, it was awful!” Billy shouted over him.
“Wake up Simon!” said Van Dyson forcefully.
Wednesday, 9th July, 2008, 12:21 PM #216
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 8 – Van Dyson’s Office
Van Dyson’s office was decorated in southern California’s typical High Sierra look, reflecting the natural surroundings of the clinic. Spanish artworks and wall hangings accented the tasteful, though not indulgent, furnishings.
Guppy stared at the picture frames on Van Dyson’s desk, the diplomas on the wall, the books by noted fathers of neurology (works by Hughlings Jackson, Kurt Goldstein, Henry Head, A.R. Luria). A framed quote read: "If You Do Know That Here Is One Hand, We'll Grant You All The Rest.' -- Wittgenstein"
Van Dyson hung up the phone. He took a look at Guppy and tried to smile, but it came off as condescending – there was nothing to smile about.
“I’m sorry about this, Hank. I know you’re in a difficult situation, but cutting yourself is not the solution.”
“But I didn’t cut myself! The woman—“
“Hank, has it ever occurred to you that this woman is a projection of your fears? I’m concerned that your personalities are continuing to fracture. We can up the dosage of your medication, but I’m concerned about you…if you start harming yourself we’ll have to restrain you, and nobody wants that.”
“I…” Guppy shook his head. “I didn’t do it…”
“I know you didn’t mean to, Hank. We’re going to do everything in our power to help you. Since your father disowned you, we're your family now and we're all going down to the wire to protect you and help you in any way we –“
Guppy focused on the picture on Van Dyson’s desk. It was the woman who haunted his dreams.
“That’s her!” said Guppy. “That’s the woman!”
“Who?” asked Van Dyson.
“Her!” Guppy picked up the portrait and turned it around. “This is the woman whom I’ve been seeing!”
“Well now we know where you’re getting your visions from.” Van Dyson sighed. “Hank, that’s my wife, Candice.”
“I know what I saw!”
“You've seen that photograph at least a dozen times, every time you've been in this office. You're just confused –“
Damon knocked on the door. “Doctor, can I speak to you?”
The men step outside.
Guppy turned the portrait around to stare at it. “I know it’s you. But what are you trying to tell me?”
Thursday, 10th July, 2008, 11:40 AM #217
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 9 – The Third Audio Tape
“Hello, doc,” said Damon in a strange, deep voice.
“Simon? Do you know who I am?” asked Van Dyson.
“Billy told me a lot about you,” said Simon. “Billy is a…smart boy.”
“What happened on Christmas night in Samson?”
“I'd rather you tell me, Simon.”
“Peter was…naughty,” said Simon.
“What did Peter do?”
“He shouldn't have done it.”
“Tell me, Simon,” prodded Van Dyson.
“He scared Damon. He crept up behind him in the dark. And he scared him. Damon fell down. He fell on his toy. It cut him up. It cut him up real bad.”
The voice turned mocking. “Damon needed someone to help him. So I…introduced myself.” He chuckled.
“I told him to cut up Peter. To cut him up real bad. Good thing his knife was brand new. Real sharp. And then, just so his mommy and daddy wouldn't get mad. I told him to cut them up too.”
The voice seemed to be enjoying the revelation. “There was a lot of blood. So much blood. But Damon wanted to do it.”
“So he did it.”
Friday, 11th July, 2008, 11:49 AM #218
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 10 – The Encounter
An odd noise cut through Guppy’s feverish dreams. He sat up with a start.
Guppy strained to listen, but he heard only silence. Then the bedsprings creaked behind him.
He whipped around and started to scream as a big hand covered his mouth. It was Damon Newcomb.
Damon shoved Guppy against the mattress and pressed his full weight against him.
Guppy flailed desperately, but Damon pinned him. He uncapped a syringe with his teeth and brought the plunger to Guppy’s throat.
“He didn’t want to do it this way. Thought you were an interesting case!”
The bedsprings trained violently. Damon straddled Guppy, squeezing the plunger to his throat.
“Azathoth doesn’t care if you’re interesting. I know you’re a spy.”
Damon brought the syringe towards Guppy when suddenly there was a loud clanging at the door, nearly shaking it off its hinges.
Damon looked up, confused. Nobody was there.
The split-second distraction was all Guppy needed to shove Damon off the bed. The syringe went flying.
They both stared at it, reaching the same conclusion.
Guppy dove first, grabbing it with both hands. He spun on his back and pointed the needle upwards just as Damon landed on him. The impact pumped the syringe’s contents into Damon’s chest.
For a second nothing happened. Damon’s pupils became pinpricks. Then he slid off of Guppy.
The door burst open and orderlies rush in.
“Thanks, Candice,” whispered Guppy.
Saturday, 12th July, 2008, 05:04 AM #219
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 11 – Van Dyson’s Home
Built on the side of a slope, Van Dyson’s home was a new, split-level affair with large windows providing a view of the abundant scenery. The neighborhood was perfectly quiet late at night.
“Lights are off,” said Hammer, peering through binoculars. “We’ve waited long enough, we should be okay.”
As they approached, the gate to the property squeaked open.
Hammer drew his Glocks. “What the hell?”
The front door swung open and the living room lights switched on.
Jim-Bean had his SIG out, but he kept it pointed at the ground. “I think we’re expected.”
They crept up to the front door. Jim-Bean and Hammer took up opposite positions, covering the room with their pistols. No one was home.
It was apparent that Van Dyson liked to be surrounded by nice things. Not necessarily expensive things, but things that were pleasant and tangible. The carpeting was plush, the furniture comfortable and attractive, tending towards the earth tones of the outside surroundings. An interest in the exotic showed up in his objects d’art, which included small representative bits of statuary and carvings from many cultures, ranging from kachina dolls of American Indians, to little jade status from Japan, to amulets and jewelry of Celtic, Roman, and Russian origin.
The television set suddenly came to life. Hammer swung his pistol at the television but managed to not squeeze the trigger. The unmistakable music from some old WB cartoon was at full blast.
Van Dyson’s entertainment center had a collection of compact disks, with an emphasis on Russian composers – Mussorgsky and Stravinsky were particularly well represented. His DVD collection indicated a preference for film noir and included cinemaphile editions of classics in widescreen format.
Jim-Bean walked over to the television and shut it off. “Did you hear that?”
“Besides the television?” asked Hammer.
“Yeah,” said Jim-Bean. “From the bathroom.”
They turned to listen.
There was a faint at first sound at first, but it was growing louder…a hollow, wet sound, coming from the bathroom.
Jim-Bean crept into the room and flicked the light switch.When he looked up at the mirror again, the image was gone. It was now deathly quiet.He caught a sight of himself in the mirror, but it wasn’t him. Jim-Bean saw himself naked, arms raised. Wrists shackled. The roar of an electric saw tore through his brain…
“You okay?” asked Hammer.
Jim-Bean blinked. He was staring in the mirror at the reflection of something just behind him.
He turned around. “What’s that?”
It was a folded newspaper discarded in the far corner of the room. Hammer walked over and picked it up. “This?”
The newspaper was opened to the realty listings page. There was a picture of a property recently purchased by the Vangogo corporation. The address was in Willows Creek.
“That’s where we need to go,” said Jim-Bean.
“Let’s just call it a hunch,” said Jim-Bean, rubbing his temples, “and leave it at that.”
Sunday, 13th July, 2008, 02:12 PM #220
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Nemo Solus Sapit: Part 12 – Escape
After Damon’s attack, Van Dyson had Guppy transferred to another room, a better one. At least it had a view. Heavy bars were on the windows, but still, it was better than no window at all.
As Guppy dozed off, entering the twilight between wakefulness and the sleep paralysis, he became aware of a ragged breathing sound. He cracked opened his eyes.
Then he saw it: a shadow crouched in the corner, roughly the size of a person. There was a putrid smell coming from it.
The ragged breathing grew louder. Guppy slid out of his bed.
He reached for her, but when he was just about to touch Candice she disappeared.
There was the sound of the deadbolt being unlocked. The door to Guppy’s cell opened quietly.
Guppy peered down one side of the long, empty corridor outside his cell, lit by the glare of neon lights. There was nobody there. When he looked down the other way, he caught sight of a pair of bare feet disappearing around the corner. It was so quick, Guppy wasn’t sure if he saw it.
He padded out into the hallway. At night the clinical corridor took on an unsettling quality.
Guppy stumbled upon two nurses watching television. He crouched low and snuck past the glass partition.
Guppy started at the sudden sound of laughter behind him. The nurses were laughing at their late night show. Momentarily distracted, he almost knocked over a mop and bucket resting by the wall.
He resumed his journey down the hallway, but stopped when a door’s title caught his eye. It was a sanitation closet.
Guppy cracked the door open and rifled through its contents. It contained a vacuum cleaner, carpet shampoo, and other household items. He came out with a small screwdriver.
Guppy hugged the wall to stay clear from the surveillance camera silently sweeping the area at the far end of the corridor. He turned a corner and then ducked back as a janitor passed, making his rounds.
After he was out of sight, Guppy rushed the distance to Van Dyson’s office. He pulled out a stolen screwdriver and brought it to the lock. After a few minutes of fumbling, he removed the screws around the lock and, carefully replacing them, entered the room.
Van Dyson’s office was shrouded in darkness. There was a switch for the surveillance monitor. Guppy switched the power strip on.
The security monitor and its accompany computer flickered to life with a view of the corridors: two guards here, a nurse going for a smoke, a janitor at the coffee machine and so on.
On the surveillance monitor, he could make out the janitor with his coffee cup heading back towards Van Dyson’s office corridor…
Guppy looked up. The glare of the computer screen was reflecting against the glass pane. He grabbed a piece of paper and pushed it in front of the blinds to block the light.
The computer finally powered up. It was open to the Van Dyson Center’s intranet. Guppy’s fingers danced across the keyboard as he searched for information.
The Van Dyson Center was turning a tidy profit from its frequent upscale patients to consulting fees, lectures, and seminars sponsored by the Center. Guppy typed in a search for Candice Van Dyson.
A few articles popped up. One, an interview conducted with James Brady for the PARADE syndicated newspaper supplement, made brief mention that the Van Dysons were married on October 21, 2001 but had recently divorced. It coyly related Van Dyson’s utter refusal to broach the subject. “The wounds are deep,” wrote Brady with his usual perception.
Articles from before the divorce mentioned Candice in pleasant terms. She was often said to be hovering about during interviews, bringing coffee, one ear monitoring the questioning in a warmly protective manner. It was mentioned that Candice was a professor of astronomy at UC-Samson.
More articles detailed the mysterious disappearance of Candice six months following her divorce from the doctor. The articles related that after resigning her position at UC-Samson, she paid off the lease on her apartment and moved away. Parents and friends had no idea of her whereabouts.
Guppy hacked into her credit card account. There was reference to Diaz Transporters, who delivered the contents of her office to Candice’s apartment. The entire fee was paid up front. A few clicks later and Guppy was looking at the work order.
Signed at the bottom was the signature, “Candice Van Dyson.”
“Why didn’t you use your maiden name after your divorce?” Guppy whispered to himself.
He looked back at the surveillance monitor. The janitor was walking away. He watched him disappear slowly but surely disappear down the hall. And then the screen was empty.
But just for a second. Because suddenly Candice was there. Staring straight at him.
Guppy swallowed hard and shut all the systems down.
Retracing his steps, he shut Van Dyson’s office door and hit the stairs.
As he reached the landing, Guppy heard voices coming his way. He detoured down another corridor and hid from view. Hector and a nurse exited down the staircase.
And then he turned at another sound coming from inside the room immediately behind him, Room 237. He stepped to the small glass pane on the door and peered inside.
It took a moment to adjust his eyes to the darkness, but Guppy could make out two figures in the room involved in some sort of struggle.
He saw a flash of metal, something sharp. It wasn’t a knife, but what looked like a syringe. And then a blur of hair was yanked up by a strong arm. In the dim light, Guppy could can make out Damon, eyes glazed, drooling.
But just for a beat, because he was slapped down on the bed like a rag doll and the man with the needle was visible. It was Van Dyson.
“You’ve gone too far,” Van Dyson said to Damon. “I let you have free run of the place while I was away. But this is too much. It ends here.”
Damon was on his back on the bed. His pale naked skin was marked with scratches and bruises. The needle was stuck in his arm, which hung limply off the side. His mouth was open but it was impossible to tell whether he was laughing or sobbing.
Van Dyson climbed on top of Damon, pulling out of his pocket what looked like an ice pick.
He lifted Damon’s upper right eyelid and placed the ice pick under the eyelid and against the top of the eye socket. With a grunt, he shoved it downward slightly and then whipped it side to side…
It was too much for Guppy. He collapsed into darkness.