The Horror At Park Slope

Part IX

Dateline: Oct 11th-12th, 1923

As night fell on the dig site, a waxing gibbous moon climbed high into the sky. Horace Mars, Kenneth Wells, Franz Schwarze and Moishe Abelman poured through Dr. Wilmott Dermott’s personal journals. In them, Dermott recounted a strange incident of mass hallucination at the dig site. He and others saw mysterious lights and “blobs of color” shooting from the temple roof toward the sky. Dermott also confirmed seeing a “well-groomed Latin woman” spying on the dig from atop the cliffs.

Just then, the investigators heard the sounds of Soldado barking. In the darkness, none could discern what had agitated the dog. After fruitlessly asking three Indian dig site workers for help, Abelman grabbed a torch and returned to shine a light into the underbrush. A rat-sized creature darted among the rocks and disappeared.

The investigators searched the deserted Indian barracks and found, hidden among one of the trunks, another black stone amulet. Wells again questioned the three Indian workers, asking them where Dermott went and demanding to see Ticocha. They provided no answers but Ticocha, himself, soon emerged from the darkness.

After repeatedly warning the investigators that they had come to a “very bad place” the Indian overseer eventually promised to search for Dermott in the morning. The investigators agreed.

Schwarze took the first watch, patrolling the western side of the dig site, while the others slept. Meanwhile, Harrington kept an eye on Ticocha’s tent.

Wells awakened to see a small rat-sized creature perched on Dermott’s trunk, gnawing its way through the hardened canvas. Wells silently drew his gun as the creature squeezed through the hole it had just made. He capped a pillow over the hole, trapping the beast inside. After Wells rattled the objects in the trunk—and got bitten on the finger for his trouble—Horace Mars boldly declared that he would stomp the rat. Wells threw the lid open.

Inside was no rat, but a repulsive rodent-thing with the face of Ticocha. The beast squealed and leaped from the trunk. Franz Schwarze managed to shoot and kill it with his pearl-handled .38 auto.

Harrington came running at the sound of gunshots. The investigators returned to Ticocha’s tent to find it empty. Mars ransacked it and found an ancient book among the old Indian’s personal belongings. This crumbling tome was identified by Harrington as De Vermis Mysteriis, a sixteenth century esoteric text written entirely in Latin.

Meanwhile, Schwarze discovered a partially gnawed journal entry from October 9th, Dermott’s last, indicating that the archaeologist planned to investigate the nocturnal phenomena in the lower temple.

Wells was shocked to discover that Enrique (and poor Soldado) had been brutally murdered in their sleep. The same radial symbol from the amulets was crudely carved into Enrique’s forehead.

Perhaps even worse, Enrique’s truck had been sabotaged, effectively trapping the investigators at the dig site. Lawrence Nightengale was tasked with repairing the vehicle, a job that, by his reckoning, could take days.

As if the situation couldn’t get any more ominous, Harrington felt a tremor coming from the direction of temple. Mars, Wells, Schwarze and Abelman ascended the pyramid to hear the sounds of strange chanting coming from inside. They descended the staircase to the lower chamber. Wells doused the floor with gasoline, just in case. Mars silently spun the secret door…

Inside, Ticocha was leading the Indian workers through some dark and blasphemous ritual. The worshippers were arrayed around the map pool—now a bottomless pit descending into into the bowels of the earth—and paying homage (or communing with?) three impossible monstrosities: man-sized scuttling things on spider legs, with gelatinous brain-like heads and stunted leathery wings.

The very sight of these alien horrors shook the foundations of Mars’s sanity, leading him to a fit of babbling incoherence and alerting the Indian cultists to their presence. Several rushed the door and two were shot dead by Wells and Schwarze.

The chamber had fallen silent. When the investigators looked inside again, the lower temple was empty. But the black pit remained…

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