Marleybones Journal No. 2 - 12 Fishbone Alley
Scene 2: 12 Fishbone Alley
The foyer of the building shows an interior similar to the outside. Crown molding and high wainscoting surround the room. The floor, once polished marble, is now strewn with mud, small piles of dirt are pushed into the corners and the tiles chipped and broken.
We are welcomed by a man named Barrett. He asks us some questions about Rankin – we lie – but it is hard to tell whether he believes us or not.
There is a stairway leading to a second floor, but we are led to a small desk in an alcove in the foyer. The two men behind the desk are dressed in the same stained red robes as Barrett. One is a huge man with large hammy fists and a face so puffy his features are grotesque. The smaller man is wiry with a nervous twitching nose as if he is smelling the air. His dark black beady eyes glance about the room. On the desk are several revolvers, a lamp, ashtray, and some writing materials. A number of cubby-hole shelves line the opposite wall.
The mousey one introduces himself as Remo, telling us the large man’s name is Harold. He asks us our names, occupations and addresses. Again, we lie. He writes the information on a small slip of paper. I notice that his handwriting and spelling are like a child’s – I guess cultists aren’t known for their penmanship. We are then asked to put our weapons in the cubby holes, and go through a doorway with a sheet covering it. Inside we will find a bench to sit on. Some sort of an initiation?
As we move towards the curtain - tattered, filthy stained cotton sheets hung over the door frame, I can hear the buzzing sound of what – for a lack of better word – sounds like a giant bee. Deasy makes a face – nodding towards the stairs, “gunpowder” he whispers. Then it hits me, the stains on the curtain are blood – the holes are bullet holes. Turning, I see bullet holes in the plaster opposite the sheet. This can’t be good.
As we sit on the bench, the room is startling – it is not made for interviews, it’s made for medical procedures – medical instruments are neatly arrayed on tables. Most I recognize, although some are clearly of an alien nature.
My stomach lurches as entering the room are pinkish things about five feet long; with crustaceous bodies bearing vast pairs of dorsal fins or membranous wings and several sets of articulated limbs, and with a sort of convoluted ellipsoid, covered with multitudes of very short antennae, where a head would ordinarily be.
My mind whirls and a feel faint. I am rooted in my place – I don’t have the presence of mind to run.
From one of the creature’s body cavities two dripping pinkish tentacles slither forth and grasp my head. Suddenly, my mind begins flickering through memories of school – teachers faces appear and then melt away, equations flash – creating confusion like a bad dream in which events are disconnected. The process is invasive and terrifying, I open my mouth to scream but my mind is not under my control. A tentacle reaches into my mouth releasing a vile concoction the consistency of oil with a fishy taste. I start to choke.
Suddenly, a gunshot to my right – impossibly loud. The sound of movement. My comrades are pulling me down. The cultists are coming into the room. Deasy and Spider still have their weapons - thank god.
From my vantage point, I can see the insects leaving the room – moving to the back door. One stops and picks up several metal canisters. As the door is opened, I see the form of impossibly thin, impossibly white skinned man. He speaks to the creatures, steps into the backroom and retrieves a package wrapped in butcher’s paper from the counter. Then, the spectral man and the insects are gone.
It is quiet. My comrades, having overpowered the cultists have given chase.
In the minutes that follow, my head slowly clears from the experience. I get up to investigate the house.
In the back room, the smell of blood seems to hang palpably in the air. On a table are strange instruments along with surgical scalpels, spreaders and saws. Six brushed metal canisters are neatly aligned on the front edge of the table. As my eyes adjust to the light, a gruesome scene unfolds. A large handcart has a pile of bodies. The bodies have been dismembered in order to fit into the cart. On the table, three freshly-opened skulls are nearby, their brains missing. A fourth head stares blankly forward from the table. In the corner, several limbs hang in a contraption dripping blood into a burlap bag.
Opening a container, I find a human brain. Even with my medical training, my senses are overwhelmed. I faint.
When I come to, I’m in a sparsely furnished room sitting in a comfortable chair. I quickly get an assessment of the situation from Deasy. While four cultists were killed in the exchange out front of 12 Fishbone Alley, several others in the park across the street were able to hold off our attempts to capture the kingpin – a large bearded man. A crack shot by Deasy, however, did cause the bearded man to drop his book – a ledger of names – and may have injured him significantly.
In making a quick reconnaissance of the house, the upstairs landing is filled with several barrels of gunpowder. Clearly, 12 Fishbone Alley is meant to be burnt down. After a short conference, we decide to make good on that plan. In an ashtray, a number of scraps of burnt paper are found – one has the name “Thad…” on it. Clearly Thaddeus Royce failed the test. The scraps with our names on it are also found burned. After some consideration, now that the drug had worn off, it is clear that some sort of intelligence test was being conducted by the bugs. For what reason, I don’t know.
The ledger book gives us our only real clue.
At the bottom of the list is an entry dated today. It reads, “Fredrick Johannsen, 14 Portland Square – courage and resolve???”
We leave the house by the back door. Deasy goes up to set off the gunpowder, and we make our way to the safety of the park.
12 Fishbone Alley is engulfed in flames. As we make our way across the park, Deasy discovers footprints in the mud – running. Thaddeus Royce. Of course, the mud matches his shoes and the twigs are from the same type of tree in the park.
After hailing a cab for a trip back to Baring House, the time has come to look at the notebooks of Thaddeus Royce in detail. We gather in the Card Room where this adventure began. Maybe we will find some clues.