Thus begins the journal of Dr. Shelby Carter, physician on the Starkweather-Moore Expedition to the Antarctic. Join him on his harrowing journey to the Ice and beyond...
NOTE: this journal contains massive spoilers. If you plan on participating in Beyond the Mountains of Madness as a player in the future, i encourage you to stop reading now. Otherwise, you will completely spoil the campaign for yourself. You have been warned.
My Dearest Uncle Lawrence,
I was so sorry to hear of your health problems and impending surgery. Knowing Dr Rowles as I do, having interned under him, allow me to allay any fears. He is an excellent surgeon and I feel sure that you will be up and about in no time. I am severely disappointed, however, that you will not be accompanying me on the Antarctic Expedition, as I know you are. Never fear; I will write volumes of letters describing every experience I have as if you were with me.
Father would have been proud of me on this one, I think. As his brother and my dearest friend, you alone know how desperatedly I craved his pride and approval. What fun it would have been with the three of us here! Remember our trips into the mountains of Peru? How wonderful those explorations were...well, never mind. It's enough for now to relive the memories.
So be of good cheer, Uncle Larry. I will bring back any oddities I think you might like. Expect much correspondence, I have a feeling this may very well be the life-changing experience I have been seeking. I pray for your good health and recovery. As always,
Your Loving Niece,
My Dearest Uncle,
Well, only a few more days until we sail, though the adventure has already begun, it seems. Did you see the newspaper article on our expedition? Sad tale about the former Miskatonic expedition...I expect to fare better than that in ours. We certainly seem to have a number of experts with us, including my five other companions I recently met at our hotel. They certainly are an intriguing mix. There is "Trash" Basura, a New Yorker with no hair and the worst tailor I have ever seen. He is quite a big man, around 6'4 and quite muscled. His suits end virtually at the elbows and knees! He seems to be quite enamoured of the ladies, rather crass in speech though he seems to know everyone around...also seems to think he's taken me under his wing, not knowing, of course, my gender. He's already tried to set me up with a woman twice now...
Then there's "Lucky" Nelson, average build, military air. He wears a bomber jacket and carries a duffelbag with the Navy insignia on it. Seems a good enough chap, conservative in speech and drinking habits, at least so far.
Then there is Douglas Mawson, of whom we all know. I was rather excited to meet him; his reputation is legendary. He seems very quiet and standoffish; perhaps he will loosen up later on. In any case, he is a much welcome addition to our group.
Next in my memory would be Worthington, an interesting chap. He is the picture of the Old World southern gentleman, complete with linen suit, straw hat and walking stick. A bit cynical, hope he doesn't turn out to be a right prick. We shall see...he doesn't seem to hold his drink well at all.
And last but not least is Oleg. He strikes me as a bit of a hayseed, wearing a flannel shirt with denim overalls. He's short and white haired, with what I swear must be the longest earlobes in the free world. He also carries a rather interesting sealskin duffel bag. I suspect behind the odd accent is hiding some rather unique talents.
We all met at the hotel and introduced ourselves. We were given a summons to report to our ship after we had cleaned up and settled ourselves in. By the way, it is very hot and muggy here, you get wet again almost as soon as you step out of the shower.
So, we piled into a couple of cabs and went down to the docks, which were a hub of activity. Our ship is called the SS Gabriel, and though it is impressive in size, it was still dwarfed by some of the other ships docked there, in particular the mail ship. We checked in with the guard at the gate and were directed to the ship's mess hall. There we met Moore and Stockweather. Moore seems a good man, quite knowledgable and competent. I got the impression that Starkweather is more the moneyman behind the scenes, with a distinct lack of warmth and patience. Perhaps it is just the strain of preparing for the expedition; we shall see.
From there we went to see a man named Sykes to get fitted for our gear and how to use/wear it. He is reputed to be a fine polar expert, and inspires a great deal of confidence. Afraid of revealing my gender, I verbally gave him my measurements for my gear, pleading privacy issues, though I did make the decision to reveal myself to Dr. Green, who gave us our physical exam.After all, I will be working closely with him, and it would be near impossible to disguise myself in the exam. He took it in stride and I have faith in his discretion, which he swore to me. He is more than competent and I look forward to working and learning from him. After that, we had the expedition photos taken and went to the dentist. Unfortunately, Worthington had to stay for treatment and met us back at the hotel in some significant mouth pain afterwards.
We all decided to go to dinner and out for drinks, discreetly, as Prohibition is greatly in effect here. True to form, Trash took us to what seemed to be a very posh, exclusive club with full bar. Lucky only had one or two drinks, as did I. After realizing that Worthington had some tooth pain from the dentist, the maitre di gave him a series of drinks that left him befuddled and drooling. Rather comical! Trash tried desperately to give me a woman along with the rest of them, but I declined, pleading a vow of abstinence. I'm going to have trouble with that one, I think.
The next morning we met the entire expedition in the Rose Room of the hotel for a briefing, which we will be doing almost every morning before we depart. There were about 30 men in there, partaking of a very nice full breakfast buffet. There were a number of small tables scattered around, with one set up front for Moore and Starkweather.
We were told that we would be departing on September 14th, about 12 days from now, for Melbourne, where we we briefly dock for restocking. We should reach the ice shelf by around November 1st, setting up a preliminary camp. Our departure back here after it's all over is tentatively set for the beginning of Febuary. We do have a plan, as we explore and map out the Miskatonic Mtn. region is to try to recover the bodies from the earlier expedition and take them home for a decent Christian burial. There will be three other expeditions in the area, though none pushing into the Miskatonic mtns. as far as we will be. As we all needed to help with the preparations, we were given manifests of supplies and the assignments to check them thoroughly for the next day or so. It took all of the rest of the day into the evening. I then met Dr. Greene to go over medical supplies and possible medical scenarios we might be challenged with. After that we all retired for the evening.
At around 5 am we were awakened by a pounding noise and shouting out in the hall. Outside Moore's door stood Starkweather, very upset, hitting the door and yelling 'Moore, damn you, let me in". He pounded some more and then stormed inside. We could just see him inside the room, yelling something about "her" sabotaging various aspects of the expedition. He then noticed us all in the hallway, staring, at which point he threw a crumpled piece of paper on the floor. He told Moore to move our departure date up to September 9th, shouted that he wanted a woman and stormed back out and up to his room.
Trash, true to form, sent two women up to Starkweather's room. However, it seems they were not well received, as shortly afterwards, they were seen running back down the hallway crying. Evidently Starkweather had told them they were tarts and sent them away.
Meanwhile, we had retrieved the piece of paper and discovered it was a newspaper article. A woman named Acacia Lexington, millionare industrialist, daughter of P. W. Lexington, would also be going on a photo expedition to the Antarctic. She also has a nickname, "The Shark" referring to her acute and ruthless business acumen.
Evidently she went on a safari to Africa in 1920 with both her father with Starkweather along as expedition guide; due to Starkweather's incompetence, her father and the rest of the group nearly perished. She has seemingly carried quite a vendetta against Starkweather ever since then. I hope this does not complicate things for our adventure.
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, though we were all tired from dealing with the checking of manifests. One more surprising note was an article in the late afternoon paper saying that our expedition is acquiring a female photojournalist by the name of Charlene Whitston who works for National Geographic. There was much in the article about it being time for women to prove they are just as capable as men. I found the whole thing rather humorous, as they already have a woman and don't know it.
The next day turned out to be rather free for us, so we all breakfasted together at the hotel. Lucky received a rather strange phone call from someone named Willis, a property owner, who was requesting some help at one of his properties. Evidently the building had a history of "strange events" and had long been reputed to be haunted. As this was having an adverse effect on his rental income of the building, and he thought we might be more openminded than the police due to our wide and varied travels, he was asking us to offer some sort of help. We arranged to meet him at a pub in Boston where he gave us a bit more information. This building had a strange history of people going insane, seeing a form with "burning eyes" and quite a bit of poltergeist activity.
We were all a bit intrigued, and as he agreed to pay us for our time and trouble, we decided to go down for the day, spend the evening doing what we could - if anything - and coming back the next day. I must meet them all downstairs in a matter of minutes, so I will have this letter posted and write you as soon as I have anything else to tell.
Hope this letter finds you in good spirits. I was overjoyed to hear that the surgery went well. I hope the recovery is uneventful and that your nurses are spoiling you a bit!
My Dearest Uncle,
I must get this letter written before I go to bed if I have any hope of getting to sleep at all. For one who does not "spook" easily, I must say I am left quite shaken by the events of the last 24 hours. Let me explain:
We arrived in Boston late in the morning. After going to the store to buy some equipment/tools for our exploration of the house we decided to go to a newspaper agency to see about past stories about the house and it's previous occupants. The Boston Globe, it was. Most of the information we received was basically the same as what we had gotten from Mr. Willis. There were no records dating back past 1878 as they had all been destroyed by a fire. I did, however, manage to come across an unpublished story written sometime in 1931 about one of the previous families that had occupied the house. A family from France moved in around 1880 and suffered a series of accidents that left the parents dead and three of the children maimed in some fashion. In 1919 a family moved into the house and also suffered a series of accidents and strange illnesses, culminating in the suicide of the son (with a knife) in 1924. In 1927 another family moved in and again suffered from a strange series of illness. No details on the illnesses were listed in the articles.
From there we went to City Hall to see what else we could dig up. We discovered that the house was built in 1835 by a prosperous merchant, nothing apparently unusual about the construction itself; and a few months later was purchased by a Walter Corbitt, who turned out to be quite an unusual and eccentric man. He was sued by his neighbors in 1852; they wanted him to vacate the premises due to his "strange behaviors" though exactly what those strange behaviors were we could not find out. He won the lawsuit. Mr. Corbitt died in 1866 in his house. Evidently his will specified that his body be buried in the basement of his house, a specification which was again contested by his neighbors. There was no mention of the outcome of the case.
The civil court records showed that the executor of Walter Corbitt's estate was a Reverend Michael Thomas, pastor of the Chapel of Contemplation and Church of Our Lord, Granter of Secrets. Isn't that a rather odd name for a church? Sounds somewhat like that cultist organization we had that brief run-in with in Pakistan...anyway, listen to the history of the church itself:
- the chapel itself was closed in 1922, no mention of why in the records themselves, though we did ask the clerk about it. He said that the police had some involvement in the investigation and subsequent closure. The folder we read said that the investigation was started by affidavits stating that the church was responsible for the disappearance of a number of local children. There appears to have been much covering up or outright destroying of facts by higher ups with in the local Boston government...-the raid on the church resulted in 17 dead cult members and three dead policemen. The thing I personally found most intriguing and disturbing was that the autopsies were vague in the extreme and that there seemed to be no extensive exams performed. -in all, 54 members of the cult were arrested, though all but 8 were later released. The Reverend went to prison for five counts of murder. -the reverend later escaped in 1927, and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
We decided to visit the site of the church to see if there was any information to be gained by poking around there, so we piled into a cab. Interesting cab driver, as it turns out she was extremely helpful to us later on. Very capable young woman by the name of Lucy Potters...
The chapel, which was actually mostly ruins, was in a rather unsavory neighborhood, with everything being very weathered and overgrown. We had the cabbie wait while we explored the place. Walking towards what remained of the building we noticed a stone wall which was painted with three intersecting Y's with an eye directly in it's center. Looking at it gave us all an odd pain in the forehead. The really strange thing was that the paint was nowhere near as old as everything else; seemed to have been done in the last year or so.
As we continued to explore further, we realized that the ground we were walking on wasn't really ground at all, but floorboards that were taken over by weeds and other herbage. At this point Douglas actually fell through a weakened part of it, injuring his hip. It seemed that he had fallen into a basement that had been closed off quite a long time ago. He yelled to us that there appeared to be some bodies down there, and, being the doctor of the group and used to cadaver work, I lowered myself down to investigate. They were really nothing more than bones and pieces of rotting robes, but I suddenly felt I had a chance of reviving them! [LOL my character rolled a 98 on her Medicine skill!]
Douglas observed that it appeared that the bodies and surrounding area had suffered fire damage. There were also some cabinets and a desk as well. Upon taking a closer look at the desk, we found a large book that was chained -for what reason I know not- to the leg of the desk. To our horror, it appeared to have been bound in skin that looked suspiciously like human skin. It was written in Latin, which I can read. The title is Liber Ivonis. It is not in very good shape, being rotten and a bit wormy, with some whole sections gone. I did not have time to peruse it, but intend to later.
Douglas found some old church records in the cabinets, among them the information that Walter Corbitt was buried in his basement after all, in accordance with his wishes and the wishes of "one who waits in the dark."...creepy, huh?
After that, we headed off to Mr. Willis' rental in the cab. The house was a two-story brick house, surrounded by tall office buildings. We dumped off most of our equipment on the porch and went in, after asking our cabbie Lucy to wait awhile. She said that she would be right down the street at a cabbie hangout if we needed her.
The front door opened onto a hallway, a long one that ran the entire length of the house, with doors opening off the left and right. We decided to check out every one, and the upstairs, saving the basement for last. One rather odd thing we noticed; four rather newish locks on the inside of the front door...we also noted a number of crosses hanging about in the rooms along with various religious artifacts and statues. In one of the storage rooms we came across a locked cabinet that contained three bound books; these turned out to be the diaries of Walter Corbitt. As we had much left to do, we decided to look at them later.
As we were exploring the last few rooms downstairs, we heard an odd thumping noise coming from upstairs. We discovered stairs leading down and up. We decided to go upstairs to seek out the source of the noise, thinking perhaps we had squatters there...if only that had turned out to be true! We checked out one bedroom and bath and found nothing until we came to what appeared to have been a small child's room. As I entered, I saw a small red ball moving along the floor as if it had just been thrown, though no one could be seen. As it rolled toward a small cot, I saw a small hand reach out from beneath the bed and grab it! Thinking we perhaps had a little rascal playing in there, I looked under one, and then the other bed. There was no one there! No evidence, even that anyone had inhabited this house for quite some time...not quite knowing what to make of it, we continued on into the previous parent's room, nothing much except for numerous crosses and related religious items. And then into another bedroom, not as furnished as the others, with just an empty dresser and bedframe. As we were standing there looking about, a scratching noise came from the window. And here comes the really unbelievable part: as I turned to look towards the source of the sound, the metal bedframe moved OF IT'S OWN ACCORD, slamming into me and knocking me cleanly out the window, breaking the glass in the process. Luckily for me, I happen to be quite dextrous and landed heavily on my feet, only sustaining a sprain to the ankle and some minor cuts from the broken glass. I could hear my colleagues shouting and running about and I ran around to the front as quickly as I could and back up the stairs.
Everyone else in the room had looked under the bed and in the closet, and, as with the child's bedroom, nothing and no one was discovered except the growing smell of something rotting. As I entered the room again, I saw what had the others so transfixed; the ceiling was bleeding! Bleeding! Blood was flowing across it like a small river...I tried holy water, no effect whatsoever! Not knowing what else to do, we all backed out into the hallway and down the stairs.
We decided that we would make a quick foray into the basement and then be on our way. Due to the strange and baffling experiences upstairs, we decided to bring our cabbie Lucy back to assist. She seems to have nerves made of steel and not to blink even an eye at our strange happenings so far, so we stationed her at the top of the basement steps with the instructions to let us know immediately if anyone or thing tried to come down after us. After haggling over extra payment she agreed.
At the bottom of the stairs was a locked door. After breaking through it we discovered what appeared to be a storage room for tools, etc.. to the left being a small room which appeared to be for coal storage. All the walls save one were brick, with the fourth being made of wood, strangely. Also sounded hollow when rapped on, so... Lucky broke through it with a pick. As soon as a significant hole was made, our poured a large group of rats, swarming around us and up the stairs. I yelled up the stairs to Lucy that rats were coming and we could hear her shouting and swearing as they evidently made their way past her.
Past the wall the Lucky punched a hole through was another wooden wall with the words Chapel of Contemplation scratched on the surface, which Lucky again applied his pick to. It opened up into a room larger than the others, with a palette in the middle upon which rested an apparently motionless body.
I'm sure you're thinking that up to now we had had strangeness and danger abounding...but it got oh, so much worse. And I've had to piece some of it together by everyone sharing their experience, as there were multiple things going on at once. As we began to approach the body, Lucky suddenly went berserk and tried to kill Trash with his pick by swinging it at him! As Trash was struggling with Lucky, Douglas stepped in and hit him quite hard with his fists which I thought would knock him out but didn't. It was all rather confusing at the time, but at some point thereafter Lucky picked up his gun and tried to shoot Douglas, so I did the only thing I could think of to do at the time. I took careful aim and shot Lucky in the outside of the thigh, knowing that it was a wound that would be treated fairly easily and would heal quickly. This of course put him down, and Trash handcuffed him - though why that man would be carrying handcuffs around is something best not dwelt upon!
It was at this point that the previously lifeless body sat straight up and looked at us. Douglas, who was not the most mentally stable of us to start with, decided he had had enough and ran for the stairs, screaming something about rats taking over everything. Trash and I hauled Lucky on his feet and pointed him towards the stairs yelling at him to get out. He seemed to be more lucid, though very angry and not understanding why I had shot him, as he had no memory of his actions. Trash and I attacked the body; Trash I believe hit it with a baseball bat that he had thoughtfully brought with him, and I shot it. It was not sufficient to kill the vile creature, if it even could have been killed, though we did not stick around to find out. We ran up the stairs, hauling Lucky with us as we went, as he was wounded. Lucy was still there, though she had rang for the police, believing us to be in imminent danger. After quickly explaining to her that we wanted no police involvement, she shoved us into her taxi and we sped away very fast, hearing sirens in the distance. She took us to the hotel, waiting while we retrieved our things and then to the train station. She said that she would "take care of everything" which we took to mean that she saw nothing and no one, including us, and would stick to that story. Remarkable young woman. I wonder what kind of life she's had that an evening like that would not shake her. I did manage to make a drawing of the very strange tattoo she had on one arm which I will have to show you on my return.
We cleaned ourselves up on the train back to New York as best as we could. I did first aid as well as I could with my limited supplies but knew I would need at least some assistance when we returned, as both Trash and Lucky needed medical attention and Douglas needed a nice quiet room, though he calmed considerably as we got further away from the house. When we arrived at the hotel, at around 2 in the morning, there was a man waiting for us in the lobby with a note. As we wanted to get upstairs with as little notice and fanfare as possible, I just grabbed the note with the intention of reading it later.
As we passed Dr. Greene's room upstairs, I knocked on it. When he answered and asked what had happened, I told him we were out exploring the city and had been attacked. Not a complete lie, really. He agreed that Lucky needed stitching and took us out to the ship's medical rooms, as a hospital had been decided as being too public and requiring too many answers to questions we were not yet ready to tackle.
And so here I sit in the mess hall, waiting for my colleagues to reassemble so that we can go back to the hotel and debrief and wind down with each other. I believe some of Lucky's memory is coming back, he was not at all sure earlier that we were not trying to kill him. What a night! Worthington still had been recovering from his dental work and Oleg was doing something with the dogs and sleds, so they will have to be filled in on what has happened. I wonder how they will react or even if they will believe us...
I hope you enjoy the news clippings I have sent; they are just further publicity on our expedition. You may be surprised to learn from one of them that old Commander JB Douglas has come out of retirement especially to captain our ship on this expedition! I know having followed his career almost as intently as you have you will be eager for all I can learn about and from him on this adventure.
Well, being tired beyond reason, I think I will post this letter from here and return to the hotel with the others. Write when you can, and I hope you're well taken care of.
My Love As Always,
Well, here it is a full day later, and quite a lot has transpired. After we got back to the hotel we did explain to Worthington and Oleg what had happened in Boston.They were quite taken aback and I am certain that Worthington does not quite believe all the events of that night.Not that I blame him, it would be difficult for anyone who was not there to believe! I also read the letter that I was given in the lobby.It turned out to be an anonymously written note warning us against going on the expedition.It reads:
'Dear Man of Science...Soon you will go down far away to the cold and the white ice and the cold old things that wait and move and work and plan. Do not! Blessed Mary hears me beg you to stay! Do not wake the Sleeping One there. Do not pass the prison walls of black and white cold ice and time. The cage must not open! Let the dead and the dying hold closed the doors. I have listened to his dreams. I have seen it's form within His mind, for He has seen it and He knows it must be free and He will stop you if you go. Turn back or we all die.' - A Friend
Rather unsettling, considering our recent events...Worthington seemed rather cynical about the whole thing, and Oleg seemed rather amazed by it all. (By the way, Oleg is rather flushed with money; seems he won 100 dollars on some dog/sled races he's been engaging in at night with some of the other Norwegian crew from the ship. Ingenious!) All of us being exhausted we then retired for the night.
The next morning at breakfast there were two very affecting pieces of news in the paper. Remember my telling you about old Commander Douglas coming out of retirement to captain our ship? He's dead! The smaller article simply announced his death on Sept. 5th and listed his many accomplishments, giving the information on a memorial service and listing his brother Philip as the only surviving family member. The second and larger article states that he was murdered, his body being discovered floating in the water off Battery Wharf by a couple of fishermen. Evidently the two men were returning to their boat when they heard muffled cries and ran to see what was happening. They spotted a man running away and some agitation in the water. While one of them ran after the man, the other dove into the water and pulled Douglas out, attempting to revive him. Unsuccessfully. Police later announced that the commander had been bludgeoned about the head, listing a Detective Hansen as the person to contact with regards to any information about the crime.
Can you believe this?! After everything going on! It seems as if someone or a group of someones really do not want this expedition to continue. I, and my colleagues, find it hard to believe that it is just a series of coincidences. The final bit of news in the morning paper was a story out of Boston, which coincides with our adventure there. The police report being viciously attacked when they responded to reports of gunshots in the area we were in. They state they were attacked in the basement of an abandoned house by an elderly man of slight stature, with wild eyes and a nearly bald head. They said that several people had been seen running from the scene and they found broken windows, smashed in walls and pools of blood. One of the officers had his throat ripped out and died. Another suffered deep cuts to his face, chest and arms and remains in critical condition in hospital.
I feel terrible about what it seems we unleashed, but how were we to know? And how can we possible rectify the situation without revealing ourselves? Lucky talked to Mr. Willis, who told him that for the time being he is keeping us out of the story that he told the police, but that if pressed or threatened, will have to give more information to them about us - which we certainly don't want. We don't want to be considered suspects nor do we want anymore bad publicity for the expedition. There has been far too much as it is.
As we were coming out of the rooms into the hallway, we saw what appeared to be a number of newsmen loitering around, presumably hoping for further juicy bits for their papers. They were camped out in front of Moore's room. Worthington took over at that point and was able to put them off. There was one gentleman at the end of the hallway that didn't quite fit in with the others. Turns out that this was the Detective Hansen mentioned in the papers. He seems a fairly straightforward sort, with a reputation for the same. He introduced himself to us and began questioning us about where we were the previous night. We gave him some story of staying up late playing cards and having some shooting contests out back. (I needed to explain Lucky's leg as an unfortunate accident!) We gave him the note we had warning us to stop the expedition, which he expressed grave concerns about, and listened carefully as we suggested to him something which had occurred to us. Namely, that one of the other expeditions, particularly the one which includes Ms. Lexingtion, might be trying to sabotage us. He encouraged us to pass on any further information we might recieve, blah, blah, blah. He wanted to know where the commander had been staying since it strangely enough wasn't at the hotel with us. It turns out that Mawson knew and gave him the address, after which the detective left. We decided to go there first to see if we could come up with any clues, and perhaps find out how to get in touch with his brother Philip. So we hailed a cab and off we went.
We were a bit surprised at the hotel. It was very shabby and run-down, in a very poor neighborhood. Trash littering the streets, bums and working girls about, etc. I had to wonder why he was being housed here instead of with us; we were to find out a bit later.
After checking in with the desk clerk we discovered that Douglas had checked in three days earlier and had had one visitor, a rather large, snappily dressed man with what sounded like a german accent. (Isn't one of the other expeditions German-based?) There was also a cop stationed outside the room, which made getting into it rather difficult. We did get around this with a rather ingenious plan of our own.Trash called one of his working girls to come down and assist us in tricking the cop outside Douglas' room. Worthington and myself and the girl walked upstairs and into the empty room next to it under the guise of two guys out for a good time! We did this because the room had an adjoining door which led into the commander's room. Once in, we instructed the girl to give the verbal impression that we were having, em...a "good time" while we checked out the other room. It worked out beautifully; we made it in with no impediments.
Douglas' room had obviously been gone through by the police earlier and was a bit of a mess. We found two photos, one of the two ships Arkham and Miskatonic with the date 1930 handwritten on it; the other a picture of Douglas and from the resemblance, his brother Philip, dated 1929. The room was littered with papers, letters and such. there appeared to be some journals which we took. Just then, we heard the sound of automobiles outside and from the window saw that they were policemen. Fearing that they would be up shortly, we grabbed the journals and a few scraps of paper and climbed down the fire escape. We had earlier agreed to all meet up at a coffeeshop down the road when we were done, so that's where we headed. Joe's Eats, it was. Once we met up with the rest of the gang, we looked at the items we had grabbed. One of them appeared to be a letter written from Douglas to his brother Philip. In it was some astounding information. It was dated the day of his death and reads:
'Dear Philip...I have arrived, as you see, in New York, and will be with you in a few days. It will not be as soon as I had hoped, however. I am shipping you some personal things by rail which ought to get there before I do. Take care and keep them safe for me. I have some rather sorry business here in the city that Imust attend to before I can come.
There is a man here named Starkweather who is hiring crew for an Antarctic voyage. He has been hounding me for months, by letter and by wire. I have no interest inhis voyage, as you well know. I swore I would not ever return to that hellish place and I will not, so help me God! But the man wants me to captain his ship, and he will not take no for an answer. I told him I would meet with him when I arrived in New York. Perhaps he will understand my refusal when I shout it to his face.
You may imagine my annoyance when I got here and discovered that the imbecile has been telling the press that I was already signed on! We are to meet tomorrow. I intend to be quite firm with him.
Adding insult to injury, a lunatic German here at the hotel has been after me ever since he learned by name. Again and again I encounter him "by chance"; the man is obsessed with fairy tales. Each time we meet he asks if I know anything of South Seas folklore, of great statues in the pack ice or of lost island nations. I have told him no; I know nothing of Tsalal, or black-toothed savages, or a man named Pym, or of anything south of the Antarctic Circle but ice, whales, and misery. If he approaches me again, so help me, Phillip, I shall knock him senseless!
It is not bad enough that Starkweather has been misusing my name in the newpapers. He has been using it to attract his crews as well. He has even managed to sign some of the boys from the Arkham and the Lady Margaret on the strength of it.
How he got any of the Arkham crew I shall never know. None of us who were on that voyage are ever likely to forget the things that were said about those murdered men, or the howls of that poor mad boy Danforth. The things he whispered to me toward the end when he knew where he was, still haunt me. God only knows what he told the others.
I am going to do what I can to convince
And that is where the letter ended; evidently we did not get all of it or he did not finish it. I hope you don't mind the length of it, but I felt the information contained within needed to be stated in all it's clarity and detail. I know that you are just as astounded as myself. It seems that our leadership, or at least Starkweather, has not been honest with us. It makes me, as well as the others, wonder what else may be going on behind the scenes that we are not aware of.
The other couple of scraps of paper we had were names with a series of numbers after them, which we deduced were phone numbers. The names were Gerald Brackman, with the number being a law firm he worked at. After speaking with his secretary, we scheduled a meeting with him for tomorrow at noon. Perhaps we can gain more insight there. The other names were Starkweather, with his contact number, and A. Lexington. There was also the name Phillip, with what appeared to be travel times after it. Written on a corner of the paper were the words Wykes, Grimes and Brewer, and under those the words "purple cup". After bashing those around for a while, Trash recalled that there was a speakeasy with the name Purple Cup. Curiously, the club is located quite close to the Douglas murder scene. So we decided to try the speakeasy first.
It turned out to be fairly typical as to the deco and type. Being so close to shore, it's customers all appeared to be of the "rough and ready sea-faring type". After talking with the bartender (whose memory was helped along enormously with a few bills) he told us that Douglas had been in the night before, recognizing the picture we showed him. He then pointed out a couple of men sitting in the corner he thought might be of further help to us. We went over and bought them a couple of rounds of drinks. One of them, a small and ugly little dwarf of a man, but with an inordinate amount of muscle, told us what he knew. That Douglas had indeed been in the night before, that he had been drinking with three men who appeared to be average looking seamen, and, further, that their names might have been that of Wykes, Grimes and Brewer, but that he wasn't certain. At that point we decided that these men, indeed the saboteurs themselves, might be on our own crew. As I am one of the ship's doctor's, I have access to the master list for the manifest of the crew, which I would check upon our return to the ship.
On our way back to the ship, we stopped at the rail station to see if we could garner any information about the items Douglas sent to his brother or indeed any contact information for his brother. We did discover that Philip lives in Toulane, New York, but not much else of any significance.
As we entered the dock of the ship, we ran into Moore, who, as usual, was bustling about making sure everyone was getting their work done, including us. On a whim Worthington asked about the names Wykes, Grimes and Brewer. Moore responded that Brewer was no longer working on the expedition as he had been a friend of the late commander and was too upset by his death. The same held true for Wykes and Grimes.
Amazing what you find when you simply ask the right person.
After that, we all dispersed to our various areas of the ships to which we had duties assigned, myself to Medical. We returned to the hotel late this evening, tired and dirty. As I went into my room, I discovered a letter had been slipped under the door. After reading it, I summoned my fellow cohorts back to read it, as I felt it was important to do right away. It read:
'Dear ...You must listen to this warning. There will be no others. After this, only action remains. I do not expect any of you to understand my reasons, but all that is necessary is that you act. Consider this a threat if you like. A most earnest threat. The expedition must not sail south. Captain Douglas was only the first to die. If you persist in your brave blind hopes you will all perish. Only those who turn back are safe. I hope that you will be among them. Let the dead lie peacefully with their secrets. They are the only ones who are beyond pain. Nothing awaits upon the ice but suffering and a bitter ending that I will do everything to help you avoid. Yes, help: even death is a blessing compared to what lies in wait. I suppose you will blame me for everything. I don't mind, even though it's not true. There are forces at work here that you do not understand, and I have to be content with that. The deadliest sin, sometimes, is in the understanding and the most damned are those who explain. Please. I urge you. Turn away. Tell the others. For your own sake, for all of us, turn back while you can. There is nothing more that I dare say.' Most Sincerely...A better friend than you will ever know.
Uncle dear, I will leave it here and post it in the morning as I am very tired. Please add the news clippings and letters I have enclosed to the scrapbook you are building. Write when you can. I remain your ever devoted niece,