Fabula 3 – Incursions

12 June 2016

After the encounter with Mr. Waits, the groups learn that he has been attempting to understand the strange machine; something he refers to as an “Aetheric Regulator“. He is frustrated at having “been brought in on the project so late,” and when he realised what it was doing – “allowing creatures from another dimension to interact with our own“, he immediately began disassembling it. Unfortunately, to no avail; it is as though part of the machine exists somewhere “else”. He believes that Burroughs and Parnassus were responsible for switching the machine on, but does not know why.

Kennedy, believing that he is re-living a previous encounter at Innsmouth, panics as one of the creatures abruptly appears in the field, “notices” him and attacks only to be fought off by Waits, who disengages the main power settling the machine back into a state of quiescence. In comparison, Dr. Billings sees nothing except the strange behaviour of those around him. He believes the actions of the others in the group are genuine – that they really believe they are seeing something, but he cannot himself experience this; probably because it forms part of their own delusions or is a reaction to the drugs.

O’Connor left the room determined to get answers and demand his freedom from the Director. Carefully navigating his way back to the Lobby; a place he is beginning to feel more comfortable every time he visits, he bangs on the Director’s office door demanding he, “…come out and allow him to leave the facility”. His actions attract the attention of the Pear-shaped Orderly, who suddenly appears standing close enough behind him that O’Connor can smell the sour milk smell of his breath on his neck, but O’Connor ignores him and instead bends to look through the top keyhole in the office door.

As he stares through at the fire-place beyond, a sudden puff of powder erupts from the keyhole and goes directly into his eye, causing him to wince as it immediately began to irritate. Behind the door he swears he can hear the sound of far-off laughter at his plight. Grabbing the bottle of bourbon he has been carrying, he sluices it into his eye. Unfortunately it reacts with the irritant and creates an immediate allergic reaction that causes his eye to burn and begin to close over. The pain is extreme, but O’Connor manages his way through it.

At this point, Randy appears and Mr. Burroughs exits his office and asks “…how he can assist?” He stands before the bourbon-soaked form of O’Connor, who is holding a set of bloodied moccasins in one hand while his own feet have left a set of bloody footprints leading away from the lobby. At this point, Clay rounds the corner…

From the personal Journal of Clayton O’Donnel:

“The peculiar event with the machine has put poor Donald over the edge. The man is the most clearly affected of the four of us and seems unable to let the smallest amount of control of his situation go to others; he has not the slightest amount of trust in the doctors, or, indeed, anyone but himself. I followed him back to Dr Burroughs office, catching up with him in time to assist with his eye, which had somehow had dust or some other contaminant enter it (maliciously, by the doctor, he indicated). Unable to stop him before he poured neat whiskey into the eye, I helped him onto the couch and poured water gently over the reddened orb, which gave him some ease. Looking closely,  I thought I saw something still there, glinting in the light of the lamp, but it was gone before I could have any certainty.

“My patient had barely been tended to before he was up and ranting at Dr Burroughs, who had emerged from his office, with the orderly looking on. Donald’s assertions that he was going to leave, come hell or high-water, were met with calm professionalism. So  caught up in the interchange was I that I failed to see the orderly before he plunged a needle into the back of the poor fellow in the most cowardly and appalling fashion. Grasping Donald as his legs began to buckle I was struck by a strong impression that he was not so crazed as I had thought. Under the guise of falling against me, he passed a couple of items he had secreted about his person to me, and as his eyelids began to flicker in a fruitless war against the drug, I whispered my intent to stay with him no matter what, which I hope gave him some solace before oblivion overtook him.

“True to my word, I traveled with him and the orderly to the infirmary through a multitude of corridors and doors, past rows of empty beds and to the doctor’s surgery. Doctor Parnassus saw to Donald’s poor feet, which I saw were in a truly abominable state. It was at this point that the doctor clearly lied to me regarding the cause – as if an engineer would believe that spilled hydraulic fluid would cause such holes in human flesh! From this point I decided that I was to take nothing at face value. Sitting alone with Donald in one of the infirmary rooms I identified that the saline drip he was hooked to was nothing of the sort and removed the needle from his vein. Applying pain stimulus I woke him and we worked together to get him as alert and mobile as possible, taking pained steps up and down between the empty beds.

“A harmonic tone felt rather than heard, a feeling of disassociation and I fell to the floor. Donald was thankfully alright. It was a most queer sensation.

“We moved to the surgery and found a pile of clothes and a head mirror – apparently the only remaining evidence of Doctor Parnassus. While I investigated and discovered the peculiar properties of the head mirror, Donald set to making incendiary devices with bottles of ethanol and ether. My studies discovered a small pillbox with four pills within showing aural colours much like those seen around myself and my fellow prisoners (for such it was now obvious we were) around the peculiar machine. This I took, and Donald and I headed down the wing of the infirmary that we had not thus far investigated, looking for both a way out and to ensure that we had the best understanding of this strange place. “

Burroughs distracts O’Connor long enough for the orderly Randy to slip a hypodermic into his lower back. The numbness begins to take immediate effect and O’Connor feels the world begin to fall away as he slips into unconsciousness.

As he falls, O’Connor passes the partially-spent hypodermic and a fork he was intending to use as a makeshift lock-pick to Clay. This is unseen by Randy who has stepped back and away from O’Connor with his hands raised; apparently waiting until the drug takes effect.

Burroughs restates that “due to the seasonal weather, the island is currently cut-off from the mainland, due in part to a malfunctioning valve in the wireless in his office, mixed with the dangerous swells, that could destroy the Coast-guard’s boat, should it seek to reach the island”.

He states his concern over O’Connor’s behaviour as it appears, “He is having an adverse reaction to the drug regime, and needs to be seen urgently by Dr. Parnassus.” He asks Clay if they have had time to visit Mr. Thompson, but Clay says no, to which Burrough’s shakes his head, says it is “important that the patients listen to all the instructions given to them by the staff to ensure a full and complete recovery,” and then retires back to his office.

Clay bathes O’Connor’s eye with water from the other bottle that O’Connor has taken to carry with him inside a pillowcase strapped across his front. Randy goes to an inset wall panel, presses it and opens a cupboard containing a canvas stretcher. Together, he and Clay roll the unconscious O’Connor onto the surface and carry him away in the apparent direction of the infirmary; exiting across the courtyard where it has begun to rain steadily. In the distance, thunder rolls across the sky, but they make it to the opposite side of the exercise yard, and Randy opens the doors using the set of keys he carries on his hip just as the first heavy drops of rain begin to descend.

Shortly after Randy and Clay leave, carrying the unconscious form of O’Connor to the Infirmary, Dr. Billings and Josh re-enter the Lobby in search of their fellow patients. Although they would have expected to have passed the others in the corridor, they discover they must have taken a different route as all they find in the lobby are a trail of bloodied footprints ending in front of Burrough’s door, wet carpet due to spilled bourbon, an empty cupboard marked ‘First Aid’.

While they are looking around wondering what to do next, Mr Waits sticks his head around the corner. He is wearing his goggles, leathers and steampunk backpack and motions for them to approach close enough for him to whisper, “They’re everywhere and I don’t know how long we have…but it’s too dangerous to stay. We need to get you to the Infirmary, Dr. Parnassus will know a way off this rock. Follow me.”

Taking the portable ‘cattle-prod’, he leads the way back through the building along the route they have just come.  They pass through empty corridors and an abandoned ward; the other patients are strangely absent, but the corridors are as confusing to transition as before and the pair stay close to their guide. Waits carries no keys, but the locks on the doors disengage and swing open as they pass. Everything seems fine until the group reach the demarcation point of the new and old building.

Suddenly, a tone can be felt by everyone in the complex. It resonates like a bell struck at a sub-sonic level and manifests as a rapidly-moving band of light and sound that quickly passes through walls and furniture and people. As it passes, people are briefly illuminated by Kirlian-style tendrils – their aura clear to see. It also disturbingly illuminates the creatures from beyond the veil that can be seen swimming in their dozens in the darkness.

“Shit, the wards have gone down,” says Waits, and he takes a swig from his hip-flask without offering it to anyone. Sensing the group, several other-worldly creatures move to attack. Waits pushes the two forwards, turns a dial on the handle of the prod so that it flares into life, and prepares to hold the creatures at bay. The last thing Dr Billings and Josh see is Waits enveloped in a mighty arc of blue lightning as he sweeps the wand through the air, then an explosion rocks the facility and the section is plunged into darkness. Without looking back, the two run towards the light of the Infirmary.

By this time, Randy and Clay have carried O’Connor to the infirmary. There, Dr. Parnassus provides immediate medical attention to O’Connor’s wounds. He washes and binds his eye, then tends to his feet. When asked by Clay what had caused the wounds, he offers what he hopes is a plausible solution but Clay does not believe him, thinking instead that the wounds are attributable to some form of acid with the concentric rings looking disturbingly like ‘sucker marks’. Regardless, some chemical, probably also a topical anesthetic, has eaten away the bottom of the soles of Clay’s feet and Parnassus binds them in thick bandages, while shaking his head. Finally, he hooks him up to what he says is a saline drip, then returns to his desk to complete the paperwork.

After realising that the drip isn’t saline, Clay decides to remove O’Connor from the drip administered by Parnassus, suspicious of his motives. He helps O’Connor to his feet and they surreptitiously leave the infirmary while the good doctor is otherwise distracted. They begin to head in the direction of the East patient’s wing; in case others need assistance in the apparent emergency. Certainly no other orderlies can be found; Randy headed in the direction of the northern corridor.

When the bell tolls and the wards come down, there is a moment of profound clarity, in which Clay is sure he can hear the sounds of things sliding in the dark behind them in the ward. When they hear the explosion and return to the Infirmary expecting to find Parnassus, the doctor is nowhere to be seen. Instead, there is a pile of empty collapsed clothing, the good doctor’s eye mirror and stethoscope. Moments later; their companions enter the infirmary and bar the entry.

A distant klaxon sounds in the prison part of the complex and the locks on all the doors slide open allowing access. Strange things slide out into the facility.