Journal of Dr. Clive James No. 8 - Madness at Bayhaven - 28 June 1892

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Wiggins House - Bayhaven

Scene 1: Golders Green Asylum, London

It is with some trepidation that I leave for Golders Green Asylum. Although I don’t know the man personally, the head doctor Sigmund Pickering has built a reputation on very experimental procedures for his patients. Setting idle gossip aside, Sarah, Sebastiani, and Wyatt agree to accompany me to the hospital. It is a lovely day for late June – overcast and cool – with reports that thunderstorms are expected in the evening.

The asylum is an imposing red stone building of three floors in an industrial style popular in the 1830s. Solidly built, the grounds around the building are quite nice with a garden and hedge maze in back – the length of the property extending some quarter mile. My companions wait on the back lawn – Sarah playing with her bulldog Brutus. Sebastiani and Wyatt are deep into a conversation on swordplay versus gunplay – boys will be boys.

Meeting with head nurse Valerie Flowers, I sense some trepidation in her enthusiasm to allow me access to the patients of Bayhaven – or provide any background. However, Dr. Pickering soon swoops in with promises to give me complete access. I learn that of the dozen or so people treated and released in the incidents at Bayhaven, one has been sent to Golders Green Asylum for psychiatric study - maintaining a tenuous grasp on sanity according to the good doctor.

After discussing the possibilities of airborne diseases, waterborne diseases, mass hysteria, and the like, Nurse Flowers is ordered to take me to see the “giggling” patient, Mr. Vincent Tillingsworth.

While I am somewhat bound by patient-doctor privilege, all this man – who moved to Bayhaven for retirement two years ago - can remember is going to bed early. The night was really hot, so he slept with the window open. The next thing he remembered was waking up in Golders Green.

While the nurse was away attending to an urgent call, I examined the patient physically – strictly against the procedures laid down by Dr. Pickering. What I found was somewhat disturbing - a vertical razor thin cut on the back of the patient's neck about three inches long. Though precise, the cut did not pierce the skin.

I confronted the good doctor with this observation, saying that I saw the cut when Mr. Tillingsworth bent over to tie his shoes. The cut was waved away by Pickering, but I could tell that he was hiding something. After that the interview ended, and I went onto the lawn to talk with my comrades.

Scene 2: Shootout at Golders Green

“Someone’s watching us,” was the first thing out of Wyatt’s mouth. Nodding his head towards the window on the top floor of the asylum, I could just make out a figure hiding behind the fluttering curtain. “Been there since five minutes after we arrived.”

“Then fifteen minutes later, those six arrived. Another man is driving the carriage at the end of the block. They’ve been watching us – not very good shadows,” reported Sebastiani.

We hatched a plan to leave the asylum but double-back and trail the shadows. As we were making to leave, they approached us directly. Miss Sarah, using her ability to read minds gave us a warning of an ambush.

Now, I won’t say that having a master swordsman makes an impression, but two of the thugs were down before they could draw their weapons. Another one dropped to Wyatt’s shot – I guess having a sharpshooter is good too. The others tried to flee, but Sebastiani hamstrung one with his sword. Wyatt shot the other two. Now, we all understand Mr. Wyatt has issues with taking prisoners – so, although I would have preferred three sources of information, our sharpshooter’s instincts negated such possibilities. We were able to talk him down from shooting the last man.

When we looked up, the carriage was gone along with the mysterious driver. None of us got a good look – although we all agreed that he had an Eastern European look about him. We dubbed him "The Russian".

A quick questioning gave us little information. The man called himself Dug and babbled on about the Old Ones returning. A quick probe from Sarah confirmed my worst fears – the Haunting Hand was behind the plot. Wanting to avoid an entanglement with the staff at the asylum, and needing to have time to interrogate our prisoner, we quickly returned to our carriage and made towards Baring House.

Suddenly, I noticed that Dug wasn’t moving – foam issuing from around the cloth gag we had used to keep him still. A quick medical check – Prussic acid – damn, must have been in a tooth. No information from Dug.

Scene 3: Visiting Bayhaven

It took several days to get the matter squared away with Scotland Yard. They made a full inquiry at the hospital without turning up much new information. One of the orderlies had gone missing, but he was a new man and was relatively unknown to the staff.

It was early on 28 June that we took the train to Southaven and the ferry to Bayhaven island. Even during the day, Bayhaven appears drab, as though color has been pulled out of the buildings. I found the people are generally distrusting. The two patients that I visited were clearly still nervous from their ordeal. They remember little more than watching the lights, and going to bed.

Our only ally came in the form of a small boy named Johnny, dirty and scruffy. He was looking for his dog, because it ran away from home, and he couldn’t find it. The boy looked to be all of eleven. He was immediately taken with Sarah and Brutus – and the boy proved friendly and likeable – without the Bayhaven bias against the Londoners.

We ask him about the lights and any other strange events, and he tells us about a strange new bird Mrs. Wiggins got. Johnny thinks she caught a really big one the other night, because he heard her starting to laugh really loudly, like she always does when she catches one, but he couldn't be sure, because he was watching those strange lights. He was glad to tell us all he knows about Mrs. Wiggins, and pushes us to find his dog before it gets dark.

Later we discovered that neighbors have long said that Mrs. Wiggins was always a bit spooky, but with the death of her husband last year, she really went around the bend. She started collecting birds. She catches them in traps in her back yard, and then she takes them inside. Some of them she stuffs, while others she puts in cages.

It’s not much of a lead, but it is somewhere to start. Johnny gives us directions to Mrs. Wiggins' home at 1308 Masters Street.

As we are making our way about town, Wyatt again picks up a tail – this time much more subtle and better trained. Again, there appear to be six or seven men – this time rotating their activities. We spot our Russian friend several times. Wyatt informs me that we have been followed since the ferry landed.

Scene 4: The Wiggins House

We decide to push on to the Wiggin’s House – wanting to catch the late ferry from the island. I’m not sure the men following us are from Bayhaven, but there is no reason to risk another confrontation.

As we reach the home – with an old wooden fence surrounding an overgrown yard ringed with dense trees – Wyatt peels off to provide sniper support. Again, I make the critical mistake of not ordering him to show mercy to anybody who threatens us. Sigh. Some days phobias are hard to manage.

Entering the home, we find on the floor the dead body of Mrs. Wiggins with her face frozen in a death grin, and her eyes pecked out. She looks like she has been dead for several days. Her birds are flapping about crazily on the floor, and have been feeding upon her flesh. None of the dozen or so birds do more than flutter, as their wings have been apparently broken. Examining one of the birds closely showed that the wing was intentionally broken with something small, like a rubber mallet. The same held true of all the other birds.

As we move to the second floor, the smell of wild animals is overpowering. A bedroom – clearly that of Mrs. Wiggins – is filthy and unkempt. A second bedroom is empty, although a trapdoor into the attic is pulled down. In the attic we can hear something large moving about. It looks like we are going to miss the late ferry. The prolonged search has found darkness closing in on the island. In addition, a storm is starting to blow the trees against the house – creating an awful scratching sound.

Scene 5: The Monster and the Hand

As Sebastiani and I climbed into the attic, all hell broke loose. Now, it was dark, and our minds were already whirling with possibilities. But what met us in the attic of the Wiggins House was indescribable - a creature - vaguely human shape – thin, black, and faceless. Its skin was slick and rubbery. A pair of inward-facing horns on its head, clawed hands, and a long barbed tail made this a devil straight out of Faust. One membranous wing was broken – this was a cripple!

A hole is the eaves just under the roof seemed to be this monster’s only source of egress. It hissed and moved through the hole in an instant. Sebastiani and I scrambled from the attic down the stairs, yelling for Sarah to be careful. As we turned into the kitchen, the creature was looming over Sarah – Brutus going wild. I shot. Sebastiani jumped in front of Sarah taking a lashing in payment. The wound from the creature's barbed tail is identical to the cut on the madman at Golders Green. Sebastiani had a strange smile on his face afterwards - almost uncontrolled mirth.

Suddenly, we hear the sounds of the men outside. Of course, they had been watching and seen the creature – or at least heard the gunshots.

Then we heard the familiar report of a sniper’s rifle. Wyatt was picking them off as they headed towards the house. Our attention was on the creature. My pistol emptied into the thing. Sebastiani’s swords were whirling. Suddenly, the creature lurched out the front door where it encountered a cultist and both went down – neither moving.

As we moved our attention to the cultists in the yard, only one remained – the Russian - hiding behind a large rock near the pathway to the front door. I called out that he was surrounded, and seeing that it was so he threw out his weapon and stood with his hands in the air.

And then the sniper rifle fired again – there would be no prisoners. I can’t blame Wyatt for his compulsions, and I blame only myself for failing to be clear in my orders. A good ally to have – but now all chances of finding out what really was going on in Bayhaven were lost.

Scene 6: Hame

As we return to the Wiggins house, the body of the strange creature and the engaged cultist are just a pile of black goo. I take a sample in my medical kit – although it turns out the vial is empty when I arrive back at Baring House.

With the local authorities approaching, we make a quick search of the pocket of the Russian who appeared to be the leader. On a small scrap of paper is the name “Mr. Finch” – although without any context the message is useless. Around Bayhaven, the Russian was calling himself Josiah Brand. So, in the King of Clubs files, I have made a file for Mr. Brand.

My companions melt into the back woods of the lot while I engage the local constabulary. I’m not sure they buy my story, which is greatly simplified for the press – the London Times version follows this journal entry – but they release me around 10:00pm after speaking with Scotland Yard and spending some time examining all the strange birds in the Wiggins house.

We charter a private boat to leave the island – insuring that we avoid being followed again. The trip back to London is uneventful. I did make one final expedition out to the Golders Green Asylum to see laughing Mr. Tillingsworth. I ask the good doctor once again about the wound - still without an answer. While in Mr. Tillingworth's room, I look out the window to the yard below – and I swear that I see a doppelganger of Mr. Brand sitting on a bench watching the building. When I went down to investigate, he was gone.

The Yard leaks to the press that we have "Dug" in custody - although he is now long buried the Potters Field. They also include the calling card "Mr. Finch". Both are attempts to pull the surviving cultists out of hiding. Aside from the Wiggins house being burnt down the wee hours of the morning after the shootout, there have been no addition reports linking activities to the strange happenings at Bayhaven.

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