Ruby fired her rifle at the tongue. The tongue unwound itself from Jimmy’s neck and snapped around Ruby’s neck.
Millicent tried to stab it, but her knife had little effect. Jimmy fired a burst down the well but the tongue kept up its grip. Geronimo fired shots into the tongue, then threw himself on Ruby, pulling the tongue off her neck. Jimmy shoved her back out of the room, and Geronimo pulled out his bundles of dynamite.
“Mr. Wright, what should I do?” said Millicent!
“Go!” he shouted. Ruby stumbled into the corridor. The tongue lashed itself around his wrist and yanked him back to the edge. Ruby scrambled forward and pulled him back from the edge, prying the tongue off of his wrist and pushing him into the corridor.
Geronimo looked at his tools. He only had short-burning fuses left. “Get out of here!” he called over his back.
[GP was out of Demolitions at this point, so Geronimo was planning to detonate the bomb at close range. And then…MP offered a Cthulhu Mythos spend. And I knew the time had finally come for me to reveal some of Millicent’s power.]
Geronimo heard the sound of footsteps retreating down the corridor. He lit the fuse and prepared to throw it down the well. He felt strangely at peace, knowing that he’d see his brother again soon.
As she ran, Millicent turned to look down the hall. “Mr. Cuevas isn’t coming!” she said.
“He’s making sure the bomb goes off,” said Jimmy.
“That’s not fair,” said Millicent. “That’s not fair.”
She stopped dead and pulled her hand out of Jimmy’s. She swiveled around and raised her arm, just as Geronimo tossed the bomb…
Afterward, they were never quite sure what happened, as they all lost consciousness in the confusion. But to Geronimo it seemed that as he let go of the dynamite, the corridor…warped…growing longer and longer, faster and faster, until he was thirty…forty…a hundred feet away from the well, all without his moving at all. There was a whistling, eerie noise in the air, and it seemed for a second that he heard strange voices singing. Then blackness rushed in from the edges and he knew no more.
[So I screwed up slightly—fainting only lowers the total Sanity loss to one. But it seemed too awesome to not have everyone faint to keep from losing a point a Sanity, as this Very Mythos Shock would have Shaken everyone.]
They came to at the bottom of a well. Twenty or thirty feet above them was an iron grate, the only source of light they had. The floor of the well was a disgusting muddy ooze.
Ruby came shakily to her feet. All around her was the scent of Nectar. She looked up and saw a woman standing next to the edge of the well. A thick veil concealed her face.
As she stared, she saw horrid Mouths open all along the sides of the well, dripping Nectar.
Steady, steady, old girl, she thought. Flopping around in the mud isn’t going to make all this horror go away. And…whatever just happened up there…I need time to think about this. Jimmy and Geronimo struggled to their feet next to her. Geronimo put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
[RP actually made the Stability test to not go for the Nectar!]
The woman began to talk in a sing-song voice, with a strange lisp. “You think you’re clever,” she said. “But you cannot kill our god.”
That voice, thought Ruby. Leticia de la Luz. She slowly began moving her hand around to her back and inside her blouse. She could still feel the little .25 Colt she had taped under her brassiere strap hanging between her shoulderblades. It was clear the rest of their guns had been taken.
[Big Preparedness spend by RP.]
“You will have much time to contemplate this,” continued Leticia, “as you sit here and slowly die of disease. But I do owe you a farewell…so I will sing you a lullaby.”
With a snarl, Ruby pulled the pistol free, spun it in her hand, and fired it directly up at Leticia. The shot buried itself in her chest. Black ichor began to pour out of the wound, and the veil slipped from Leticia’s face. She bent down, glaring at Ruby, and then her face split down the middle, revealing ragged edges filled with teeth. A hissing growl filled the air.
Ruby sighed and began to collapse into the ooze. As she slipped down, Jimmy snatched the gun from her hand and emptied the clip directly into Leticia. He stood there for several moments, finger spasmodically squeezing the trigger even as the hammer clicked on an empty chamber, black ooze dripping down onto his face from Leticia’s lifeless body.
Geronimo gently took the gun from him and lowered Jimmy’s arm. “Millicent has fainted. I believe you can make your way to the top by stabbing the mouths with a knife and using them as a handhold. I experimented on some of the nearby ones, and they do not bite after being stabbed.”
Jimmy shook his head and grunted, and then began the long climb up the slimy walls. He glanced down to see Geronimo propping up Ruby. It was clear that some Nectar must have gotten into her mouth when she fainted the second time.
When he reached the top, he swung out onto the grille, holding himself suspended by one hand while rifling through Leticia’s pockets with the other. Eventually he found a key that unlocked the grille, and pulled himself up into another underground storage room. There was some rope nearby and he used it to pull the women and Geronimo out of the pit.
Nearby, they could hear the sound of a gramophone playing some sad French Socialist songs.
Geronimo found a couple of the kind of pistols Brooks’ men had been carrying on a table in one corner. He handed one to Jimmy, and they walked toward the sound of the music, which was coming from behind a nearby door.
The door wasn’t locked, but Jimmy kicked it in anyway. On the wall opposite to them was an enormous poster of Billie Holliday, with the mouth defaced and scratched away. A pink carpet gave the dank chamber an incongruously cheerful note. Brooks was sitting by the record player, with his back to the door. A picture album with photographs of Leticia and him, while she was still human, was open on his lap.
He straightened when they came in the room, but didn’t turn around. “Is she dead?” he asked.
Jimmy and Geronimo looked at each other, and raised their guns.
Brooks looked down at his hands. “Useless,” he said. “Useless—”
There were two loud bangs, and then the sound of a phonograph needle clicking at the edge of a record.
When they came back, Jimmy and Geronimo found Millicent trying to hold Ruby down. They could see that she was in the grips of a Nectar sexual frenzy. Geronimo yanked Ruby away from the girl.
She wrapped her arms and legs around the Spaniard. “Oh, Geronimo,” she sighed. “Let’s not restrain ourselves.” She began pulling off the buttons on his shirt.
Trembling, Geronimo gently pushed her away. “Now is not the time,” he said huskily. “I…cannot. Not like this!” Not when she is not herself. “Jimmy! Help me!”
Jimmy shoved Ruby away from Geronimo and twisted her around. He handcuffed her behind her back and then pushed her into a corner.
Millicent searched the blood-soaked room that Brooks had been shot in. She found a small datebook with an itinerary neatly written down inside, the history of an expedition to the city of Merida in the Yucatan. She also found a letter from Brooks to SS, with one interesting phrase: “The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that it really does all come down to Merida—that everything comes back to her…”
They went their separate ways to prepare for the trip to the Yucatan. Ruby met Captain Murphy in Puerto Vallerta and decided to take a relaxing Pacific cruise through the Canal and then looping back up to Merida. Murphy was surprised by how fragile she was.
Betty flew Jimmy, Janet, and Geronimo back to Los Angeles. Geronimo spent much of his time going to church, and confessing how much he had been tempted by fornication.
Jimmy took Janet out on the town, meeting with the local bigwigs and trying to repair his fraying network of connections, including Senator Grey, who he ran into one night at the Players’.
“How did that whole poisoning the reservoir thing turn out?” said Grey.
“It had an explosive result.”
“I’m going to forget I heard that, since I’m a member of Congress. You know, I often think about that night I first met you. Then I drink.”