Decade of Darkness

Sunday 11th January 1920

During the night, all three of our plucky stalwarts have very strange experiences.

Julia is woken unsociably early by a hammering on her door. When she opens it, there is the hotel manager with a very irate and hostile Alice Albert, who explains that Dwight had not returned to his room the previous night. She accuses Julia of seducing him and believes him to be in her bed. Julia explains that this is not the case and that she had last seen him on the landing near Quigley’s room late last night.

Alice is dragged off screaming insults at the bemused Julia.

Soon, our gang assembles in Julia’s rooms and discusses the adventures of the day before.

Going down to breakfast, they are greeted by the hotel manager who explains that a quick search of Dwight’s room revealed that his winter coat and boots were not there; it seems that the amorous playboy has gone out for an early morning walk to clear his head.

As they sit down to breakfast, they are joined by Chester Allen, the professor who they had briefly seen the previous evening. He is just bidding farewell to Dennis O’Mahony who is leaving, having completed his transaction.

He explains that he has acquired some pieces for the University – a statuette and some other artefacts, small pieces.

Meanwhile, Solomon is busy spending time with Alice Albert.

Chester proposes a walk to get some fresh air after Julia and Alessandro have completed their interviews.

Alice tries to browbeat the hotel management into launching a search for Dwight but they try to fob her off. Solomon gets involved and the manager eventually asks Leonard the porter to select a group to see if they can find any trace of him. Solomon very quickly gets changed into his winter gear and tags along with the group until they get to the edge of the forest, whereupon he feigns returning to the hotel but actually follows them from the vantage point of the trees.

Julia goes off to her interview with Tommy Milner and there meets Grace La Rue, vaudeville and movie star. Julia is rather star-struck by the encounter.

The interview with Tommy goes well and Julia learns a thing or two about the history of the hotel. She returns to the lounge in time to wish Alessandro good luck with his interview and then spends a good hour or so with Chester, who regales her with a dark tale of his own past that hints at terrors undisclosed.

Alessandro is taken on a tour of the hotel by Brightman, the restaurant manager. He has a chat with Lennie the shoeshine boy and bellhop and finds out about the basement areas where the laundry and stores are.

On his return, he, Julia and Chester are sitting down to have lunch when a suspiciously bedraggled Solomon rushes in and heads straight for the lifts. When he re-emerges some time later, he joins them at the lunch table but is not allowed to have his meal in peace because Alice appears and beckons him rather urgently. He goes over to see what she wants and she reveal that when she returned to her room a few minutes ago, the door was ajar – she was certain that she had left it shut. She persuades Solomon to accompany her up there, and he drags the rest of the group along.

When they reach the room, they do not seen much amiss to begin with except for Alice’s make-up box tipped all over the dressing table. But then on the back of her door is a mysterious message in large red letters.

It’s swiftly identified as being written in lipstick, rather than blood. Ensuring that Alice is safely allotted to the custody of the Snyders and remembering that they had planned to go for a walk, the gang get changed into winter gear and set off up the mountain to check out a suspicious site that Solomon said he’d found earlier that morning.

After about forty minutes, they arrive at a place where a large fire had recently burnt out. Around the fire are circles of footprints and in the ash are bones that could well be those of a large animal. Nearby, some strange markings are found scratched into the moss-covered rocks.

There are some intriguing hypotheses as to what they might be but no firm conclusions and the gang decide to return to the hotel. It is an uneventful descent but when they arrive in the foyer of the hotel, all hell has broken loose. Six guests are baying for the manager’s blood because they too have had mysterious messages scrawled in their rooms. The gang quickly gather the details and check out – in succession – Quigley’s room (he is unconscious and shivering but has been working on more weird pictures), Julia’s room (she has got a message too) and Dwight’s room, where there is no message but Julia realises that his evening wear and shoes from the night before are not there, suggesting that he never made it back to his room.

Armed with this information and some very interesting revelations from the manager, the gang board the bus about a half hour late and set off for Brattleboro.

When they arrive in town, Julia and Chester head straight for the library, whilst Solomon and Alessandro call in to the local department store, the former to update his ordnance and the latter to gather some gossip about the hotel and the reaction of the town to it. They find some strange anecdotes from the locals concerning odd things being washed down rivers and mysterious explosions in the mountains.

At the library, the gang start researching and soon find a newspaper article concerning a large number of deaths at the hotel while it was being used as a military hospital during the war. The librarian inadvertently gives away the location of a locked cabinet and while Julia, Chester and Alessandro divert her, Solomon picks the lock and gleans details of the military enquiry into the deaths and police reports on disappearances in the area and the involvement (or not) of vagrants.

Finding out that all the dead soldiers were buried in Brattleboro cemetery, Julia has an idea to investigate and tries to persuade the others to accompany her on an expedition. Solomon and Chester seem a little reluctant to participate and instead decide to check out Mr Bullingham King, the local historian of strange goings-on in Windham County.

Julia and Alessandro make their way up to Prospect Hill Cemetery and take a good look around – they are unable to find much out except the graves of those who died at the hotel during the war. Somewhat disappointed but feeling chilled within and without, they make their way back down to the waiting hotel bus.

Solomon and Chester, meanwhile, have much better luck. They find Mr Bullingham King and over tea and old Christmas cookies probe his local knowledge. He tells them a great many things about the mysterous goings-on in the local area, some rather unsettling things concerning inbred local hillbillies and weird pastors, a decrepit village near the hotel and even some tantalising clues about the red numbers on the hotel doors. Intrigued, the two investigators make their way back to the bus where they impart the new discoveries to their colleagues.

The journey back through the frosty night takes them the best part of an hour and when they arrive, they are all ready for dinner and a rest. Alas, such is not to be their reward. As they enter the lobby of the hotel, Sheriff Wallace, one of his deputies and two New York detectives, Hicks and Cavanagh appear and arrest Solomon for murder and conspiracy to murder. After a tense stand-off, Solomon allows himself to be disarmed. He is led off to a store-room in the basement but not before Alice appears and promises to enlist the family lawyer on his behalf.

First Alessandro, then Julia are questioned by Sheriff Wallace. After that, Chester offers to delay the Sheriff to give his two colleagues time to investigate the hotel a bit further. They head off towards the basement to see what they can find.

They find themselves in a maze of tunnels and passageways and decide to head for the source of a dull, rhythmic hum that they felt as soon as they went below ground-level. They arrive in a room where there are two exits – one is a dark hole into who knows what, the other a big metal door.

They check the dark hole out first and find that it is a cobweb-infested, mouldy store-room with some old lead ingots, sandbags, bedstead, tools and wooden planks. Alessandro advises Julia not to bother with it as she might pick up some nasty disease.

Their next step is to open the big metal door. As they do so, they are hit with a blast of intense heat and ear-splitting noise – the boiler and the furnace confront them. Their senses are so overwhelmed that they are taken by surprise as from the darkness comes a hideous, faceless figure, moaning incoherently and coming right at them.

Julia and Alessandro scream and flee but not without a parting shot from Julia’s pistol. They slam the door shut and run for the safety of the hotel.

When they arrive back at the lounge, a flustered and worried Chester greets them and listens with horror as they describe their experiences. He is determined to face whatever it is that waits in the darkness and delivers a stirring speech to gee up the others.

Not wishing to sleep alone, all three decide to spend the night in Julia’s room, taking it in turns to stand sentry. Chester arranges for Solomon to receive some sandwiches and a flask of coffee and does the same for his comrades. Before they turn in, Alice Albert arrives at the door, begging Julia to be allowed in on whatever they are up to, as it clearly concerns her brother’s fate. Julia treats her kindly and agrees to a council of war at breakfast the next morning.

It’s going to be a long night.

Comments

I wouldnt be surprised if the hillbillies are related to Leonard and Ursula!
And the detectives are just jealous because Solomons got better sartorial taste than them…..B-)

Sunday 11th January 1920
 

Ah-ha! So that’s who the people on Dungeonmum’s blog are!

Sunday 11th January 1920
daddygrognard

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