Monday, October 29, 2007

The Call of Cthulhu

(Part 1) Friday evening I drove up to Dan and Amy’s in Florence for a “Call of Cthulhu” game. Dan ran the game, using the Savage Worlds game system. There were seven players, plus Dan.

I arrived with a full stomach, but that didn’t keep me from eating some of Amy’s truly fine chili and homemade bread rolls. There was also a large jar of candy corn and peanuts which, when eaten together, taste almost exactly like a Payday candy bar. Also, dark chocolate peanut M&Ms. And corn chips.

Dan passed out pre-generated characters for each of us. I took the role of Fr. Angus Duddlesworth, founder of a runaway shelter. The year was 1983. A CD player near the game table played music of the early 80s until we got tired of it.

Game synopsis, in short: I read in the paper that the teen boys who had been staying at the shelter were horribly murdered in the night, and all the girls were missing. The boys had been ripped to shreds.

I hurried down to the crime scene. The door was guarded by two officers. One of those lads was a good Catholic, and I talked my way past. He accompanied me, but soon had to run back out: Inside was unimaginable carnage. The bodies had already been taken to the coroner’s office, but the gore was everywhere. Officer McCarthy could not stomach it and went back outside to retch.

I steeled myself with prayer and tried to understand what had happened. I saw no sign of forced entry, until I noticed the basement door. I appeared as if something had forced it open from within. Had someone been locked in the basement?

I no sooner saw this than Sgt. Brian Willis arrived on the scene. He was irate that I was walking about the premises, and hurriedly showed me outside. As he questioned me, a reporter –whose name I never learned—showed up, as did a man named Dr. Connick. Sgt. Willis began to realize that his two officers, one nearly incapacitated from nausea and distress, were inadequate to secure the building.

I searched the building’s exterior and found nothing of note. By the time I was done, I found Dr. Connick and the reporter discussing the matter with a woman named Jodi, who was looking for her missing god daughter, one of the teens from my shelter. A man named Randy was there, too, as well as a teen named Jimmy, a young man who had stayed in the shelter previously and who was looking for his girlfriend Sharon.

With Sgt. Willis intent on keeping us in the dark, we retired to a nearby eatery. Dr. Connick told me that he had been at the coroner’s office, where in one of the bodies had been found a large fish scale. The reported said that there had been a history of girls missing from this area, going back fifty years, and that unidentified, eviscerated bodies sometimes wash ashore. The police, it seemed to us, were not acting quickly enough to find the missing girls.

Jodi worked out some plan to distract Sgt. Willis. She may have done something to make him hold a press conference. I’m not sure. At any rate, were were able to sneak back in the back door of the shelter.

In the basement we found that the iron sewer cover was opened. Equipped with flashlights, we began exploring. Jimmy spotted a strange trail of slime starting at the rungs we had descended, so we opted to follow that.

After quite a bit of walking down the main passage, we found rough stairs leading downward, straight through the bedrock to another series of tunnels.

There, we found a circular room with a pool in the center. I saw what I first took to be a person swimming in the water there, but it lunged from the water and attacked us. It was a horrendous fish-man, like a beast from a horror movie! Jodi killed it with a shotgun blast. I do not know who this woman is, but I’m glad she was with us.

The doctor examined the corpse. We all fervently hoped that it was a man in a rubber costume, but it was not so. It was some mutant or horrid hybrid.

As were struggled to come to terms with this awfulness, Sgt. Willis and one of his officers arrived. They had been pursuing us, and had heard the shotgun.

We explained the situation, and he told us that we must leave. However, he recognized that this was a matter beyond any with which he had dealt before, and knew that he could not force us. Jimmy, at the least, was uncontrollable in this eagerness to save his girlfriend. We continued down another tunnel, desperate to find the missing innocents.

Horror of horrors! We found a tremendous cavern in which dozens of the horrid fish-men were holding blasphemous rites with insane chants. A giant golden altar, flanked by huge fishman statues, stood next to a pool. As we watched, three of the teen girls were led to the altar.

(To be continued.)

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