“How did you get to Lake Tahoe?” demanded Jimmy when they got back to the hotel.
“I don’t know! But I don’t think I walked, my feet would hurt if I did.”
“You couldn’t even have gotten there!”
“I know…I thought I must be dreaming. That made a lot more sense than teleporting. Everyone knows that’s impossible, right? Nobody can teleport…can they?”
Jimmy gulped, remembering a little girl he’d once see walk through a wall. “It’s…hard. Most of the time they do tricks to fool you.”
“I wanted to see…a friend of mine, who was in Lake Tahoe. But I thought we were both dreaming together.”
“Who was it?”
“Vanessa…Brady? She’s your friend?”
“She’s the friend of all the orphans at my school. She got in some trouble, so Mrs. Grey sent her up to their place in Tahoe. She’ll be okay there, right?”
“I think so. What did she say?”
“That I wasn’t dreaming, and that this wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“That…sounds like Vanessa.”
“I don’t want anything bad to happen to her…which means I probably don’t want us to happen to her.”
“I’m afraid she may already be mixed up in all this.”
“By the way, you know who Leticia Adams is?”
“No, never heard of her.”
“Oh. I saw a picture of her once and she looked like somebody I used to know.”
Jimmy was sitting in a cantina, vaguely listening to the band singing in the background. He scribbled on another telegram slip, sighed, and took another drink of tequila. In the center of the room, a well-tanned woman was dancing. Jimmy noticed she was wearing, improbably enough, fruit on her hat.
He blinked again. “Ruby?” he sputtered.
Ruby stopped dancing and lurched toward Jimmy. “James. I just got in the other night.”
“I thought you and Murphy were still sailing?”
“Oh, the Captain had to dash off and do something. Some island to discover. He left me at Puerto Vallarta and I’ve had just an astonishing time getting here.” Her voice dropped. “The strangest thing, though. The further I got from Los Angeles, the less I craved…the stuff. But the closer I got to Mexico City…the more I felt the craving. What do you think it means?”
“Something bad. Come on, I’ll take you to the hotel.”
The next morning they drove out to Victor Cortez’s home in Coyoacán. It was a small bungalow on a quiet street. Chickens clucked in a coop a few houses away.
Ruby yawned and stepped out of the car. Geronimo swung out after her and grabbed her wrist. “Someone is watching us from next door. There, in the porch, with plants arranged in front of him.”
Dr. Orange walked nonchalantly away, rounded the corner, and ran up the block until he was behind the house Geronimo had indicated. He hopped over the wall and landed in a crouch without making a noise. From his vantage point, he could see the man was holding a rifle.
Julius grabbed a flower pot and threw it at the man who ducked at the last second. The pot smashed into the wall. The man clubbed his rifle and swung it at Dr. Orange, who jumped back just out of reach. The man babbled something in a bizarre, ululating language.
That’s how the Mouths talk, thought Dr. Orange. He pulled out his pistol and whipped the barrel at the other man’s face. Blood spurted from the man’s nose. He wheeled the rifle around and then stopped as he felt Ruby’s pistol being jammed into the nape of his neck.
Geronimo pulled the man around from behind and kicked the rifle away. Jimmy slapped some cuffs down on his wrists.
Ruby was listening to the man’s incoherent ravings for a moment. “He’s saying…you will all die…the Mouth will devour you…I think he’s been waiting for a while.”
“You can understand him?” demanded Dr. Orange.
“A little…it doesn’t feel good.”
[So…not strictly by the rules of the campaign, but when has that ever stopped me? RP made an offer of a Cthulhu Mythos spend to be able to understand the Tongue of Lies, and quoth the Keeper, why the heck not?]
With the threat neutralized, they walked into Cortez’s house. The place had been completely demolished by people who had thoroughly searched the place. Over the mantelpiece they saw “See You” painted in a substance Dr. Orange was sure was Nectar. Geronimo found the glass jar that Cortez had told them about in the corner and searched through the matchbooks until he found the one with Brooks’ address on it.
The phone rang.
Everyone paused for a moment, and then with a sigh Jimmy answered it.
“Mr. Wright?” said a voice with a thick Russian accent. “Victor wanted to talk to you.”
“Lots of people want to talk to me.”
“Unfortunately, he can no longer talk. You should take better care of your friends, Mr. Wright.”
“Where is he?”
“Ask for him and you will find him a grave man. And you will be too if you don’t return to Los Angeles. This warning is a courtesy I give you because of your reputation—it would be a shame to damage you.”
“You’re a gentleman.”
“No. I am not.” There was a click as the other man hung up.
“Victor’s dead,” said Jimmy.
“That is unfortunate,” said Geronimo gravely.
[Aaand everyone knocked off 2 points of Stability for having indirectly caused the death of an innocent. Except Ruby, who never met him.]