Eternal Lies: The Masks of the Liar

Eternal Lies: The Masks of the Liar (Introduction)

Welcome to the adventure log for Eternal Lies: Mask of the Liar.

Let me talk a little bit about the nature of role-playing game writeups. A great many out there aren’t all that fun to read—but they don’t have to be, because their purpose is mostly functional, to remind the participants of what happened. A few are of great practical interest, because they explain the mechanics of the game system, and another group are actually quite interesting to read.

I aim to hit the sweet spot between the last two categories—to provide an explanation of how the game works, and the decisions I and the other players made during the game, as well as writing what I hope will be an entertaining account of the gameplay.

I record the game sessions for this campaign, so I am able to reproduce what happened with a high degree of fidelity. That said, for the purposes of providing a more engaging writeup, I do occasionally compress dialogue or action. I also provide details that weren’t necessarily in my descriptions of the scene during play, but work better for the account of the session. (I generally don’t do much in the way of description while I GM, because I get my kicks out of playing the various NPCs; but I generally have a good idea of what things look like in my head.) So the account you are reading is only one version of what happened, specifically the session as I re-imagined it after it was over. Whether or not it’s more “true” than the versions that, say, my players might have had, is a subject that people with a better grasp of philosophy than I have can answer.

I have taken the liberty of occasionally rearranging the order of some events (in the first session, this was mostly the research infodumps Jimmy and Millicent got) in order to make the narrative flow a bit better. Those rare cases don’t materially affect the plotting of the session.

As a GM, I’m fairly improvisational, which may be why I like taking existing campaigns and twisting them to a greater or lesser degree—it gives me the structure to keep all the elements bound together, while allowing my creativity to explore different ideas. For the various mistakes, anachronisms, blatant failures of logic, and general silliness, I take full responsibility.

For these writeups, I’ve maintained my standard practice of putting in GM commentary. Most of the time this will reference the mechanics of the game, like Investigative spends or which General skill was tested. For Investigative skills, a “use” means that no points were spent, while a “buy” or “spend” will indicate how many points the player spent. My philosophy of running Gumshoe holds that liberal use and interpretation of Investigative spends is the difference between an adequate-at-best game and something that really crackles, but not every Gumshoe GM will agree with that.

My GM commentary [looks like this.] I will sometimes mention the player as differentiated from the player character; to preserve anonymity, I use the following codes:

JP: Jimmy Wright’s Player
OP: Julius Orange’s Player
RP: Ruby Fitzgibbons’ Player
MP: Millicent Lowell’s Player
GP: Geronimo Cuevas’ Player
Me: The GM, your faithful chronicler

As I did with my last campaign, I wrote a Fiasco playset for us to use to provide some backstory for how the PCs know each other. The results of that playset are the first two posts in this log (The Casting Call of Cthulhu).

I’ve implemented a few house rules for this campaign. I’ve replaced the standard Sources of Stability rules from Trail of Cthulhu with the Solace and Symbol from Night’s Black Agents. (The Solace is a person who keeps you going, the Symbol the representation of something that inspires you; both can be used to get a Stability refresh.) For various reasons which I don’t have to rehearse here, I’ve ditched the standard Stability check system and am just charging a flat cost to Stability in cases where there would normally be a check.

Finally, a quick note about the links between this campaign and my previous Cthulhu effort, The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep. The two campaigns are in broad continuity with each other, and of course Jimmy Wright is in both. That said, Masks of the Liar is only a loose sequel to the previous campaign. I have ideas about doing a real sequel one day with more of the original cast, but those plans are still in development.

Prologue: The Casting Call of Cthulhu (Part 1)

“No, no, no,” said Oliver Ates. “What I want is the tentacles to be waving, like this. Not like that.”

“Oliver, tentacles are so 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The public is tired of it. They want winding.” said Ruby Fitzgibbons, assistant to the executive producer (or was it the executive assistant producer?)

“Ruby, this is an artistic matter. It will simply ruin the artistic effect—”

“Ruin it!” said Dr. Julius Orange, the technical adviser. “How are we going to pay for it? I’ve been through this line by line and I don’t see a line saying models.”

“It’s simple,” said Ruby. “Get some more clay, it will only take a day or two to have winding tentacles. And it will make more sense. Octopi don’t wave, they undulate. The public will see and say, my those tentacles are undulating quite amazingly around that submarine.”

“Ruby, dear, there’s no submarine—”

“—yes there is, James and I were talking—”

“A sailboat. A Norwegian sailboat,” finished Oliver grumpily.

It was another typical day on the set of The Call of Cthulhu, the overbudget, overschedule, and thoroughly underwhelming epic film being produced on a shoestring in part by Ruby Fitzgibbons. Or at least her family’s money; her family long ago had learned that it was easier to pay for whatever Ruby’s current fancy was rather than have her anywhere close to them.

“Sailboats are so old world,” said Ruby. “It should be a U-Boat, that’s so much more modern.”

“Ruby, darling, I didn’t write it.”

“We talked to the screenwriter. He won’t speak with us anymore, but I feel the conversation we had through the door backs up having a U-Boat and undulating tentacles.”

Oliver sighed. “Be a good little German,” he said to Julius, “and go make this happen.”

Muttering imprecations, Dr. Orange stormed away. I earned a Ph. D. in theoretical physics, he thinks, taught here and in Germany for years, even managed to escape the Nazis, and I end up taking orders from some half-baked Englishman about a rubber monster. California is a very strange place.

“Miss Fitzgibbons, I’ve noticed an increase in strange people coming and going on the set,” said Geronimo Cuevas, the man most recently assigned to protect Ruby by the studio (the last three had all quit within a week of meeting her).

“Geronimo, we’re in California. They’re all strange.”

“What I mean is persons who appear to want to do harm to the film. Or you.”

“Ne’er-do-wells? What do you need?”

“I can’t protect the entire studio on my own. I need help.”

“I’ll talk to Oliver. We’ll take it out of the special effects, I guess,” said Ruby, watching the mechanical tentacles flop back and forth from the head of the twenty-foot high monster prop. “In the meantime, take some petty cash and go hire some out of work people.”

“You want me to protect the studio with bums?”

“They prefer to be called Okies, I think. There are some over there on that street corner.”

[Me: Great, you’re hiring Tom Joad: “Wherever there’s a studio to protect, I’ll be there. For 35 cents a day.”]

Geronimo sighed to himself and began walking towards the street corner. I have to keep this job, he thought to himself. If I get deported back to Spain, Franco’s goons will have me killed the minute I step foot in my homeland. And some of them, he reflected, knew his real name.

“So what are real cultists like, Mr. Wright?” asked Millicent Lowell.

“They…ooze weirdness, sort of,” said Jimmy Wright, private investigator and assistant producer. He pondered again why he had let his friend Janet Rogers talk him into poking around the set to see if there were any actual cultists trying to sabotage the film.

“Are you talking about special effects?”

“No, those tentacles are just horrible.”

They stepped out of the sound stage and began to walk across the studio lot. Over by the monster prop, there was a sound of machines wrenching to a halt and Dr. Orange cursing.

“Some cultists look weird, some look quite well-dressed, and in power and control over everything,” continued Jimmy. “But they aren’t.”

“So anyone you don’t like is a cultist?”

“No, I’ve liked cultists—”

“You like cultists?”

“I don’t like cultists,” said Jimmy reflexively. “I, um, misspoke.” He pushed away the memory of a certain educated and useful woman who had helped him quite often in the past—and turned out to be a cult leader.

“If I see someone sneaking around, couldn’t they just be a thief?”

“Thieves are bad too. Just sic me on them.”

They arrived at the screenwriter’s trailer. Jimmy yanked open the door, and the body of Lee Walling, the screenwriter, tumbled out to the tarmac. Blood from multiple stab wounds covered his back and chest.

Millicent shrieked and ran away.

Millicent ran into a dressing room and slammed the door behind her. Elmer Sedlock, the makeup artist, pulled a chair out for her. She collapsed into it and blurted out the news about Mr. Walling between sobs.

“Oh honey, are you all right? You look so pale. I mean, worse than usual. Did you use that bronzer I gave you?”

“I think we have more problems than getting me a date on Friday night.”

“Girl, we’re not even close to that point yet. Honestly, I don’t know why I’m even trying…”

“But, Mr. Walling, he was actually dead, and looked so terrible. Not like your dead bodies.”

“Well, I’m a genius, and this was just some stupid murderer.”

“But why would anyone want to kill a writer?”

“Oh sweetie, you really haven’t been on a set very long, have you?”

“But writers don’t have any power! The directors and special effects guys and geniuses like you are more important.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t suicide? Because I’ve known some writers, and frankly…”

“He probably couldn’t stab himself that many times.”

“Well, why are you coming to me? I don’t know anything about dead bodies! Oh, all right, I did work as a mortician’s aide for a few months…”

“Really? What was that like?”

“Normally I say kinky, but you don’t look like that kind.”

“The bodies…have kinks in them after they die?”

“You are just a treasure,” said Elmer as Millicent slumped over and passed out. He sighed and called the emergency contact number the studio had given him, with stern instructions to use it whenever Millicent was in any trouble. A whole lot of trouble to go through for an orphan who goes to school out East, he thought to himself.

The phone rang, and then a man with a rich baritone voice picked up. “Bradley Grey.”

Elmer gulped and took a deep breath. “Uh, Senator Grey? We have a little trouble at the studio…”

Geronimo Cuevas, waiting for the police to arrive, suddenly saw Dr. Orange running up to him.

“Did you hear the terrible news?” said the scientist.

“What news do you speak of?”

“Somebody’s been murdered!” Julius clutched Geronimo to him. The Spaniard deftly disengaged from his embrace and lit a cigarette.

“What was she thinking?” he muttered. “Hiring Okies.”

“I know! If you were there, I know you’d be able to stop them….you know, I bought you that sweater, but I never see you wearing it. I buy you gifts all the time, but—”

“It wasn’t my color,” snapped Geronimo.

“Right, you told me your favorite color was green.”


“Khaki, right! Stupid, so stupid! Well, what are we going to do? Between my brains and your…virility…we should be able to solve this. Have you ever seen a dead body?”

“More than you can imagine.”

“Well maybe you can tell us something about how he died…”

“I’m not a detective. My only job is to protect Miss Fitzgibbons.”

“Oh, you are impossible!” said Julius before he ran away in frustration.

Prologue: The Casting Call of Cthulhu (Part 2)

“How can we stop filming!” shouted Oliver. “I don’t care that the writer’s dead! He didn’t do anything anyway!”

“A man has died,” said Geronimo calmly. “The police must be notified.”

“Of course we’ll call the police but that’s no reason to stop – You there! Get back to work, you lazy bastards.”

“A dangerous man is among us.”

“I know who it is, it’s Warren. That man’s line readings could bore anyone to death. Fine, I guess we’ll have to halt filming for the day. You know how much it costs to stop filming for a day? Five thousand dollars! You can tell her that.”

“Miss Fitzgibbons has been known to spend that on her breakfast.”

“Really? I must make it a point to get to know her better.”

Jimmy, Millicent and Ruby got together in Ruby’s office to discuss the current state of disaster on the set.

“We’re having some problems on set,” said Ruby. “I hear the tentacles aren’t working that well. And the writer had an accident.”

“An accident?” said Millicent.

“He fell on a knife. Now we have some important things to work on. I’m thinking…subtext. Our lead has an abusive father…”

“Oh, that’s so sad, Miss Fitzgibbons.”

“And if she has an abusive father, when she defeats the Honolulu monster by ramming it with a U-Boat, that’s like defeating her father.”

Jimmy and Millicent both stared at her.

“What?” said Ruby. “The movie is named Calling Honolulu, right?”

The Call of Cthulhu, Miss Fitzgibbons,” said Millicent. “And I think it’s about Easter Island…”

“That’s a strange name. Is it Dutch? Anyway, Easter Island is better. It’s rebirth! And she could be pregnant!”

“You’re a genius!”

“Thank you. Now, I’m going to lunch, just have a 10 page outline ready for me when I get back.”

“Did I just get assigned a term paper to help write the movie?”

“Get that nice German fellow, the professor, to help you. I want some of that nice physics mumbo jumbo in there. Carbon…Titanium…Molecules. Get all that. The science people love that. How about this—the U-Boat is made out of antimolecules! That’s how it defeats the father-figure Canalulu.”

“Are you sure it’s him?” said Jimmy, pouring himself a drink in Ruby’s trailer.

“Of course it’s him,” said Janet Rogers, ace investigative reporter formerly of the Los Angeles Mirror. She had recently divorced herself from both the paper and her husband, its editor.

“You’ve established me wrong many times,” said Jimmy, handing her a drink.

“Well, aren’t you a private investigator? Haven’t you found any evidence?”

The door opened and Geronimo Cuevas stepped inside. “How can you help me?” he asked. “Frankly, these Okies aren’t doing anything.”

“I know you have them,” said Jimmy, closing the door behind Geronimo. “The dailies. We have reason to believe that the murderer of Lee is on them.”

“Oliver always likes to keep the cameras running,” said Janet. “The man’s a walking fire hazard with all that film around him.”

[Silver nitrate film was highly flammable. It also had the most marvelous black balance.]

“Then I will hand them right over,” said Geronimo. “But the police need to see them.”

“It’s not the time to go to the police just yet,” said Jimmy. “Trust me on this. It’s a little weird and a lot complicated. It will…blow their minds.”

“What does that mean?”

“That’s complicated too. Just give them to me, and I’ll give them back at the end of the day.”

“I’m not sure—” began Geronimo. Suddenly there was a horrific scream from the direction of the giant mechanical monster.

They rushed over to it and found one of the special effects technicians impaled on a tentacle.

“The…undulations…” he whispered before dying.

“I have no idea what happened,” said Millicent. “She told me to rewrite the script.”

“So write it, then,” said Dr. Orange.

“But the science has to be right!”

“The science does have to be right. What does this crazy woman want this time?”

“She says…Cthulhu…is hit by a U-Boat…made of antimolecules…does that mean anything, Professor?”

“Of course it doesn’t, but let’s pretend.”

Outside, several people started running towards the mechanical Cthulhu. “Quiet!” barked the Professor. “I’m trying to work!” He busily started scribbling on Millicent’s draft.

Geronimo found Ruby being helped out of her car by her chauffeur. “Miss Fitzgibbons, I was approached by that Jimmy and Janet. They said the man who murdered Lee is on the dailies. But they want to hold on to them instead of giving them to the police.”

“Well, that’s not good. Murderers can’t go free. You should call the police—I hear the LAPD are very nice.”

“Could you make that call on my behalf?”

“I’m far too busy—why, the special effects man is playing that he’s been hurt by the tentacles. So dramatic. But fine, I’ll call the District Attorney, he’s a dear.”

Not long after, Bernie Ohls, the platinum-haired Chief Investigator for the DA’s office arrived. “Jimmy! I got called down to this rathole.”

“Bernie! You know how it ends up…”

“What the hell is that thing? Are those tentacles…undulating?”

“Don’t ask.”

“Lieutenant Ohls,” said Geronimo, “there has been a murder on our set. I have been informed by Señor Wright that the murderer is capture on our film and I wanted to hand them over for proper custody of evidence.”

“Is this for real?” Ohls asked Jimmy.

“You know how sometimes I get those really weird cases? This is kind of one of them. I wanted to save you the trouble.”

“Well, I can take care of them. Oh, Phil wants to have dinner next week. I’ll call your girl.”

Ruby and Dr. Orange were doing the casting call for day-players, all of whom were dressed in ratty velour robes, except for one cadaverous man who seemed to have brought his own richly adorned silk robes.

“The tentacles,” the man told Ruby, “should not undulate like that, but more like this. More…widdershins.”

“You hear that, Herr Professor?”

“Yes, I keep hearing that, but tentacles just don’t move that way. They’d be useless!”

“They are cosmic space monsters from Hawaii, sir, of course they can move that way. They break physics.”

“No, no, no. They don’t break physics. Just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t mean they break physics.”

“Well, how could they really move that way, then?”

“Even if I could make it happen, people will never believe it!”

“When you think of tentacles from outer space,” said Ruby to the extra in the silk robe, “do you picture these kinds of tentacles, or other kinds of tentacles?”

“Oh, I picture much more interesting tentacles than this. Were you going to help me with my lines?”

“Yes, I’ll help you with them. Go ahead.”

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!” he shouted.

“That’s not in the script! We did all the alien gibberish as backwards German, so it would be scary.”

“Trust me, this will help with your special effects.”

“How? Tell me, move me, make me see.”

“I will help make this idol…this special effect…seem to live.”

“That’s good. Now, have you taken a look at the anti-molecules? I think they should be blue.”

“Yes, yes. But I require one more thing of you.”


“Your blood!”

The man lunged forward and stabbed Ruby in the shoulder. Ruby screamed.

Jimmy was still trying to convince Bernie to not take the dailies with him when they heard Ruby’s scream. They ran towards the giant Cthulhu prop.

“Miss Fitzgibbons, I’ve failed you!” shouted Geronimo.

“Yes, you have,” said the cultist in a sepulchral voice. He advanced on Jimmy.

Jimmy tackled the cultist as Geronimo pulled Ruby to safety.

“Jimmy Wright, we owe you!” said the cultist, as he and Jimmy rolled in the dirt.

A shot barked out.

“That is not dead which can eternal lie…” rasped the cultist as he perished.

Jimmy rolled the bleeding corpse of the cultist off of him and stood up to see Geronimo neatly tuck away a snub-nosed revolver.

“…and then Jimmy shot him,” said Millicent to Janet in a booth at Musso and Franks. “And he was one of those cultist guys Jimmy was talking about! and why are all there all these dead bodies? why are these people doing these things? I mean, I heard Hollywood is really cutthroat but I thought they meant that metaphorically!”

“Well, look at it this way,” said Janet, lighting a cigarette, “at least you got school credit.”

Some weeks later, Roland “Freddie” Holmwood, head of Earl Pictures, watched “THE END?” swim up on the screen of his private theater.

“Well sir?” asked his assistant.

“What a dreadful load of rubbish. Pass.”

Geronimo Cuevas got a job as Ruby’s bodyguard, which was less dangerous than chasing Fascists in the streets of Madrid, but hardly less annoying. To avoid any immigration hassles, he let everyone believe it was Jimmy who had shot the cultist.

Ruby decided to quit show business and spent the next year breathlessly telling people about her encounter with a madman.

Dr. Orange used the contacts he made on set to secure a hefty grant that allowed him to travel and pursue his own theories without needing to teach.

Jimmy Wright chalked it up to another bunch of crazy cultists, and became closer to Janet Rogers.

And Janet Rogers decided to start investigating more paranormal cases. She happened to be sitting on a hell of a story…

Part I: The Long Road Out of Eden
Jan-March 1937

IN WHICH Janet Rogers assembles a diverse group of investigators, Jimmy Wright finds himself back in the thick of the supernatural, and a strange menace appears…

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 1)

Here’s a thing I don’t understand about happy endings. People always say they want them. Don’t give them one and they get all mad at you, tear up the book, walk out of the theater cursing, try to punch the guy running the projector. But what I don’t get is, what happens after? Is Elizabeth never going to get mad at Darcy for spending yet another day hunting instead of visiting her father? Viola never going to take the Duke to task for going out drinking? Is Ginger ever going to want to tell Fred to just give it a rest, already, and spend an afternoon not practicing for once?

I mean, what happens after the final curtain falls, the horse rides into the sunset, that last long Vaseline-lensed kiss? Do heroes get to live a life redeemed from all the ordinary problems and indignities? Do they keep having madcap adventures, screwball mixups, constant near misses with death? Or is it just that having paid in so much tragedy and adventure they’ve finally earned the right to have an ordinary life from now on?

And is that supposed to be a reward?

Anyway, it reminds me of a guy I know. Maybe you’ve heard of him too.

In January, 1937, they tell me, there was a ball in downtown Los Angeles for all the dedicated people of local law enforcement. Quite a few of the local bigshots were there, from the Mayor and the Chief of Police to the freshman Senator from California, Bradley Grey. J. Edgar Hoover himself came down from Washington to hand out awards. Probably also to schmooze and dig up dirt on everyone, but Edgar was always a snoop.

Jimmy Wright was there of course, up on the big table itself. He almost choked himself when he got named Civilian Investigator of the Year. He shouldn’t have been surprised, you know. The fix was already in.

Down in Eddie Mars’ casino—illegal, and underground, which must be why so many off-duty cops hung out there—Ruby Fitzgibbons was playing roulette. She had a huge pile of chips in front of her, and she was letting it ride, of course. Ruby always liked to let things ride.

Her bodyguard, Geronimo Cuevas, lounged against the table nonchalantly, staring at nothing. He looked bored, and sleepy, and about as gentle as a puma.

“Madam, I have to check with Mr. Mars about accepting this bet,” the croupier said in an apologetic tone somewhere between a polite cough and a church whisper.

“That’s all right, I’m playing on account anyway,” said Ruby.

The croupier looked towards the entrance to the gambling room. A grey-haired man in evening clothes nodded at him.

The croupier picked up the ball, and spun the wheel lightly, almost nonchalantly. The wheel began to turn swiftly. He released the ball and it began to clatter over the spokes.

Slowly the wheel spun to a stop. The ball tumbled into a space. The red number 14 slot.

“I’m sorry ma’am, it’s red. I’m afraid you lost.”

“I’ll bring the car around,” said Geronimo in Ruby’s ear.

“I’ll simply settle up my bets for now,” said Ruby to the croupier. “I’m sure we can deal with this diplomatically. Quietly.”

“Indeed. I’m sure Mr. Mars will not need to send any…collection agents.”

“Of course not. He’s a civilized man, there’s no need for such things.”

“We all hope so, madam. We all hope so.”

Dr. Julius Orange (born Oraanje, but that’s immigration for you) was burning the midnight oil in his office at Caltech, working on the latest insoluble problem in applied aerodynamics. It wasn’t the hardest, or the last problem he’d ever face. I can tell you there’s always a harder one. And sometimes there’s not a clever solution to be found.

But that’s Julius. He never gave up easy.

Dr. Max Born, his old friend from Germany and colleague at Caltech, stooped into the office. “Hello, Julius, still working on that airflow problem?”

“Ja, I just can’t figure it out. The President asked me to work on these things, I don’t know why.”

“Tell me about it. I’m involved in a project that…well…of course I can’t tell you about it.” Born paused, and cleaned his glasses with his handkerchief. “Do you ever wonder,” he said slowly, “if maybe we’re working on things we’re not meant—”

“No, no. The scientific mind is our key aspect. There is no limit to what we can discover with our brain. I mean, I like this Roosevelt, although he seems a bit lazy, always sitting around. Now, his cousin, there was a man! But this one has a mind.”

“Didn’t he have polio?”

“I’ve heard the rumors, I think the papers are just being nice to him.”

“Well, an intellectual doesn’t need to be an athlete.”

And down near Malibu, on the edge of the canals of Venice, mercifully upwind from the oil derricks, Millicent Lowell and twenty of her classmates were streaming into a very large Victorian style house. The girls were all chattering to each other. Some were planning to sneak out to the boardwalk that night, to meet the hard boys and sailors on leave and even zoot suiters.

But not Millicent. She was ordinary, not adventurous at all, even though she could shake a tail better than an NKVD agent and move quieter than a ballerina in foam shoes. But she wouldn’t waste that on sneaking down to the beach. She wasn’t that kind of a girl; she was just a nice, ordinary, all-American girl. And that should’ve told you something.

Vanessa Brady, the lovable eccentric and relative of some kind to a Senator’s wife, greeted all the girls at the door. She pulled Millicent out and showed her up to her room, which was totally ordinary. Maybe a bit small. Devoid of anything personal, of course, blander than a hotel run by Shriners.

“It’s so good to see you,” said Vanessa, straightening Millicent’s hair.

“You too. Holly didn’t make the trip with us. They said she had the flu.”

“That’s not what I heard. I heard they sent her to one of those, one of those sp-sp-special hospitals.”

“What? Why?”

“I don’t know, was she sick? Maybe she had nervous exhaustion? Anyway, they sent her to a, a place in Georgia somewhere.”

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 2)

Jimmy Wright, clutching his award (a sheet of bulletproof glass with his name engraved on it) to his chest moodily watched the streetlamps pass by through the windows of his car.

“Congratulations, Mr. Wright!” said his driver, a perky young thing from Manhattan, Kansas named Betty Auckland.


“So Mr. Wright, any chance I could become an investigator for real yet?”

“You pass that test?”

“Well, gee, Mr. Wright, I haven’t had a chance to yet. But I was hoping that maybe in the meantime I could do some jobs for you.”

“Sure, I have this one job, it would be perfect for you. But you should really pass that test, it will make your life easier.”

They pulled up to the building housing the offices of Wright-O’Donnell Investigations. Betty ran out and opened the door. “Thanks, Mr. Wright! Have a good night!”

Jimmy rode the elevator up to his floor alone. He got out and opened the glass doors to the offices, walking down the long, silent rows of desks that stretched away into the darkness. There was a pool of light up ahead—the night receptionist’s desk. Jimmy waved greeting to her and then stepped through the double doors to his office.

It was a spacious room, with a sunken seating area for having meetings, or sitting with a drink and contemplating things. Large windows looked out over Los Angeles, the far away hills seeming to brood over the city this night. Jimmy went to the bar, made himself a drink, and then walked over to a tall mahogany cabinet. He fished out a key on a long chain hooked to his belt and unlocked the doors.

The interior lit up as he opened the cabinet. Inside were glass shelves holding odd little bits and pieces—scraps of notes, a chart of the Indian Ocean, some fragments of pottery. A strange amulet made of something that looked like bronze was carefully hung up in the back; its smooth, unadorned surface reflected his distorted image back to him. Jimmy picked up a framed photo showing a large group of people gathered on the deck of a ship, probably a decrepit old freighter. In the front row was a younger version of himself, one arm draped over the back of a little girl.

Something flickered behind him.

He closed and locked the cabinet and turned around slowly. Sitting on his desk was a small package wrapped in plain brown paper.

It hadn’t been there when he came in.

He sat down behind the desk and pressed the call button with a trembling finger. “Laura?”

“Yes, Mr. Wright?”

“There’s a package in here…”

“Yes, Mr. Wright. I put it in there before you came in.”

Jimmy wiped the sweat off of his hands and picked up the package. Something heavy was rattling around inside it.

He slowly undid the wrapping. Inside was a small box. He lifted the lid and found a post card on the top.

The picture showed some strange rocket rising up on a pillar of flame and smoke above a flat landscape near a shore. In red script in the upper left corner was written “Cape Kennedy, Florida.”

He’d have thought it was some cover from a pulp magazine, except that it was a photograph. A color photograph.

On the back, in a crabby printed handwriting, there was a message:

Dear Jimmy -

You’ll want this, eventually.

— K

PS Say yes to her, though you’ll regret it.
PPS This is the third time I’ve saved your life. Be more careful!

Jimmy gulped. He had known somebody who used the initial K once, long ago. But it couldn’t be him…

Then he saw the address:

James Wright, Esq.
The Mason Building
Los Angeles, Calif.
20th Century
Earth, Milky Way

Jimmy opened the box. He pulled back some tissue paper inside it, revealing a strange dagger with a long thin blade of some kind of bronze material and a handle shaped like the head of an ibis. The blade was caked in in places with some kind of dried black ichor.

Jimmy dialed Ruby’s number with shaking fingers.

James. How are you? My shoulder has never been the same since that awful attack, don’t you remember…”

“That was almost a year ago…listen, have you ever come across a style of dagger, ibis head for a handle, long blade?” He gave a few other details about the strange artifact.

“Clearly Egyptian, perhaps Fourth Dynasty?”

Jimmy gulped. “Egyptian, sure.”

“You should be careful, they can carry curses you know.”

“My lucky rabbit’s foot keeps me safe.”

“Well, you never know, one day you may need the rest of the rabbit.”

“I am the rest of the rabbit,” said Jimmy distractedly. “I just wanted to confirm—”

“Its Egyptian origins?”

“…its origins in general.”

“You seem…perturbed.”

“Me? No, no. Are you going to Grey’s holiday party?”

“Of course. Has something strange happened?”

“No, no, I’m perfect, Miss Fitzgibbons. I’ll see you at the party.” Jimmy rang off quickly.

He had hardly replaced the phone in its cradle when his intercom buzzed. “Mr. Wright? Mrs. Rogers to see you.”

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 3)

Jimmy stood up as Janet Rogers came through the doors of his office. She was dark-haired, with the kind of plain good looks that added up to a lot more than the sum of their parts. Maybe it was her eyes, almost black in the dim light, with a smolder in them. They were constantly glancing around, taking everything in with swift, light glances. Jimmy knew however that when the fixed on something her glare was hot, inquisitive, and as direct as any man’s.

He took her wrap and offered her a chair, but she remained standing, almost in a reverie. She picked up the glass trophy and fingered it with one gloved hand.

“Drink?” said Jimmy.

“Mm-hmm.” She put down the award and looked up at him. “Well, Jimmy, are you still a private investigator, or are all these awards just for show?”

“About half are just for show. I still get my feet wet once in a while.”

“There’s something I’d like you to look into.”

“This isn’t going to be like the last time, is it?”

“The movie? I hope not.” She sat down in front of the desk and took a cigarette out of a silver case. She waited for Jimmy to light it, took a deep puff, and then looked up at him sharply. “The thing is, this needs to be totally off books, you understand? I don’t want this to be an official investigation of Wright-O’Donnell Investigations. So you can’t use your regular people.”

“Well, J. J. will be upset, but it happens. What’s going on?”

“Why don’t you get some people you trust together and we’ll talk at Bradley’s holiday party. Just keep it hush-hush until then.”

The Grey mansion was down in Orange County, surrounded by farms that were in the process of being turned into subdivisions. It sat in between a couple of low hills, with a genuine orange grove in the back, along with a nine-hole golf course, a track and stables for the Arabians Mrs. Grey bred, and a swimming pool the 7th Fleet could have done maneuvers in.

The house itself was brand new, although an enormous amount of money had been spent to make it look like a three or four century old manor house—the kind my Duke of Dundersly might have considered an adequate little pied á terre for entertaining during the summer. The Senator’s wife had wanted something to remind her of her girlhood summers in England, before her feckless brother got himself killed and she’d had to take charge of her parents’ industrial conglomerate.

The Greys called it a holiday party, but nobody could quite figure out what holiday happened on January 14. The hosts always laughed it off as a way to make sure nobody could snub them with the excuse that they had another party to attend.

As she did with most pursuits dear to her heart, Mrs. Erica Carlyle Grey spared no expense on preparations. An enormous Christmas tree, dragged with great difficulty from the far side of the Sierra Nevada, dominated the three-story high entrance hall, its top almost brushing the ceiling. Elegantly dressed servants buzzed around the guests, offering dainties prepared by chefs straight from the Cordon Bleu. The champagne was cold, the whiskey old enough to get drafted, and both were flowing like water. The one odd note was the large amount of teenaged girls, wearing the uniforms of various toney East Coast schools, milling around in giggling clumps. Veterans of the Greys’ parties told newcomers, sometimes in a conspiratorial whisper, that the Greys were great patrons of the education of women, and that every year they brought hundreds of girls out to California every year over the holidays—the ones whose parents were overseas, or even orphans, the poor dears.

To this party were invited, of course, rich dilettantes and their bodyguards, famous private eyes and their investigative reporter escorts, and scientists on the Department of War’s dole. That is to say, Ruby, Geronimo, Jimmy, Janet, and Julius. And, of course, Millicent, who was with her classmates.

Ruby was holding court to a coterie of hangers-on and sycophants.

“He was a horribly deformed man,” she said, “with eyes like flame! His breath smelled like a carnivore’s, blood and flesh. He leapt on me, his knife flashing terribly in the sun! Fortunately Geronimo was there to rescue me. He stayed with me the entire ride to the hospital. Which was bumpy, and hurt more. James! How good to see you! I was just telling people about our little adventure on the movie.”

“I remember that guy being only about five feet tall,” said Jimmy Wright.

“Don’t you think we should try to resurrect the project? I know we had a few difficulties…”

“No, thank you. My producing days are behind me.”

“You could get Cukor to direct,” offers a ravishingly handsome man hovering near Ruby, waiting for her drink to run out so he could fetch her a new one. He usually didn’t have to wait long.

“Dr. Orange!” said Ruby, waving to the professor. “Are you doing anything important? I know you enjoyed working on that monster we built.”

She was careful to ignore the full-body wince that convulsed the professor. “Didn’t I see something in one of the science magazines about those anti-molecules?” she continued. “It was your idea to add them to film, wasn’t it?”

“I need a drink,” said Dr. Orange. He trailed after one of the butlers.

“Tell me about this dagger,” said Ruby to Jimmy. “Don’t keep a girl waiting.”

“I wasn’t aware I was. It…brought back bad memories to me.”

“Well where did it come from.”


“Well, yes, originally, but where did you get it from? Was it slammed into a doorframe? Or left in some kind of mysterious package?”

“It was left in a mysterious package…on my desk.”

“How macabre! Tell me more! Was there a note! Or no note, that would be even more interesting! Tell me! Jimmy, why aren’t you saying anything!”

“There was a note, from a friend.”

“A friend of yours sent a mysterious package? So you could identify it for him—or her—or they? Is there a they?”

“It…depends. Sort of switches around…think of it as an organization. Run by one person.”

“A public organization or a private organization?”

“Private. Very private.”

Millicent dragged Janet into a corner. “A friend of mine said she had a case of the flu but she’s actually in a hospital. How can I find out more about her, and whether she’s all right?”

“Well, that depends on where she is, and of course confidentiality would make it difficult…so, how soon do you need this by? I can talk to my people.”

“I’m here another week. I just heard she had nervous exhaustion…”

“Do you know where the hospital is?”

“Somewhere in Georgia.”

“Georgia. Are you sure about that?”

“Yes, I think.”

“Don’t go anywhere.”

Janet found Jimmy with Ruby, Geronimo and Dr. Orange. “Jimmy, are these the people you want to use? Well, you’re the detective, I guess.”

“Are you the one who sent Jimmy that mysterious dagger?” asked Ruby.

“What?” said Janet. “Never mind about that. I’d like you to take Millicent along on this. I need to confirm something. I’m afraid this might be tied to her, although I don’t know how. So it occurred that I should, I don’t know, hire a private investigator.”

“Well, if she’s tied in to this, she needs to be protected,” said Jimmy.

“Indeed. Let’s go to the library. Fetch Millicent, there’s a good man, Jimmy.”

Jimmy found Millicent banging out ragtime on one of the Grey’s several pianos, providing cover for her schoolmates while they plundered a liquor cabinet. Jimmy listened to the music for a while, smiling at the girls’ clumsy attempts to hid bottles of booze under their jackets. Something about Millicent’s playing reminded him of something, or someone…but the memory couldn’t fight its way through the heavy, smoke-filled air and the two cocktails Ruby had pressed on him.

Millicent hit a flourishing finish. “Come on,” said Jimmy, “Janet and I would like to talk to you.” They walked down a long hallway carpeted with a carpet thick enough to lose your glasses in.

“I’m really worried about her,” said Millicent.


“Helen. Didn’t Janet talk to you about her? I thought that’s why you wanted to speak to me. She said she had the flu but I found out she’s in a mental hospital in Georgia.”

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 4)

They walked into Senator Grey’s law library. Jimmy closed the doors behind them and the sound level plummeted in the room.

Ruby was perched on an overstuffed leather armchair. Geronimo was in a corner, mostly in the shadows, his gleaming eyes watching the doors and doing a casual sweep over Jimmy to see if he was armed. Dr. Orange was sitting at one of the reading desks, idly flipping through a popular science magazine.

Janet was pacing back and forth in the center of the room. One of the green-shaded ceiling lamps was almost directly above her, and she kept stepping into and out of its light, the sequins of her evening gown flashing and dying as she did. She held a drink in one hand and an unlit cigarette in a long black holder in the other. Jimmy pulled out an elegant silver lighter and lit it for her.

“So, Georgia,” he said quietly.

“Yes, Georgia,” said Janet, distractedly at first and then glancing sharply at Jimmy. “I must say, I’m happy you chose the doctor, I would have recommended you do so if you hadn’t. He might be very useful on this.”

She put the drink down and took a long drag on her cigarette. “Have any of you ever heard of Walter Winston?”

“A composer, wasn’t he?” said Ruby. “Did silent film scores, right? I haven’t heard anything by him for a while.”

“Well, he just died,” said Janet. “He was German, you know, born Walther Wahnstein. Came over around the turn of the century. But back in the twenties he was involved in…well, I don’t have a better word for it. An incident.”

“An incident?” said Millicent.

“In 1926 a rather strange thing happened right here in Los Angeles. It was right around that blackout—you probably don’t remember, Jimmy, I don’t think you were out here back then. It seems that out on some farm in the Valley, there was a gunfight. Several people died.”

“Bootleggers?” asked Millicent.

“Well, that’s what everyone thought. The police never charged anyone with any crimes. Maybe it was covered up. Winston seems to have been involved somehow. And this seems to be why he stopped composing. He left a lot of interesting papers, but he never wrote about the incident. My research, however, uncovered some associates of his, all of whom died that night. Except one: Douglas Henslowe. He’s from Savannah, Georgia, and he’s currently in the Joy Grove Asylum there.

“But it gets more interesting. In the same hospital is another patient who was also involved with this incident: Edgar Job. He’s the only person to have been charged with anything related to this shootout, but that may only be because he confessed to killing a PI named Vincent Stack. A PI hired by Walter Winston. California found him mentally incompetent to stand trial, and after a stint in the state mental hospitals he got transferred to this place in Georgia. The reason I’m glad the doctor is here is that Job was an assistant professor of physics at UCLA while he finished his doctorate.”

“I wonder what he was working on,” said Dr. Orange.

“I don’t know, but I was hoping you could tell me if there was anything odd about it. I’ll be frank, even if it were convenient for me to go to Georgia right now, this investigation may require skills I don’t possess.”

“Do not worry,” said Ruby. “I will bring everything I have available to this investigation. I’m very glad you chose me to lead this expedition.”

“So you smell a story here,” said Jimmy.

“I smell a very big story,” said Janet. “And Jimmy—there’s a very small chance that this may intersect with some of your more…unusual investigations.”

“That’s already started.”

Janet looked at him with curiosity. “Anyway, do you need to book a train or something—”

“Don’t worry,” said Ruby. “I’ll fly all of you there. Meet me at Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale. Drink your coffee beforehand, we’re leaving at 7 in the morning sharp.”

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 5)

The Ruby Dawn was a Lockheed Electra—the same kind of plane Amelia Earhart was planning to fly around the world—painted bright red with a rather risqué portrait of Ruby herself on the nose. On the flight out, Jimmy told Millicent that a friend of his at the FBI had confirmed that her friend Helen Taylor was at Joy Grove Asylum in Georgia.

The tarmac shimmered as they climbed down from the plane. The air was muggy, heavy, oppressive, full of dank and mossy scents. The heat hit them like a physical blow, knocking the wind from them and causing sweat to trickle unpleasantly down their backs almost immediately.

They set up camp in an old hotel near the center of town—the kind with faux colonial architecture, wrought iron balconies and quaint pictures of men and women in frock coats and hoop skirts hanging on the wall. Miserable little electric fans meekly tried to stir the air around them. They had about as much luck as a guy stirring tar with a chopstick.

After some discussion they decided to infiltrate Joy Grove in two separate parties; Jimmy and Dr. Orange would impersonate government officials of some kind, and Ruby, Geronimo, and Millicent would pose as a family looking for a place to send a relative.

Dr. Orange worked the phones for a few hours and several buckets of ice, arranging an introduction for Jimmy and him as federal investigators. Eventually he placed a call with Joy Grove to set up an appointment.

“This is Bethany Mae Hampton, Dr. Keaton’s personal assistant. How may I help you?” She had a rich Georgia drawl, sweet as honey and just as sticky.

“I’m calling to arrange an inspection for the State Medical Board. My name is Dr. Orange, I’ve cleared it with all the relevant authorities.” For once, Julius reflected, his German accent would actually be an advantage, given American stereotypes about psychiatrists.

“We haven’t had a visit from anyone like you in a long time! Well, shall we say tomorrow at 10 o’clock? I’ll let Dr. Keaton know.”

“Excellent. I need to let you know our policy to bring along a layperson, so that we can make sure that your facility is accessible to all potential patients. It’s a new thing but very helpful, I wouldn’t know what an American would want in such a place.”

“Are these people from Georgia?”

“It’s a works program, you know Federal government.”

“Oh, one of Mr. Roosevelt’s ideas. Well, he’s helping the country, I suppose. I’ll let the security people know to expect you.”

Jimmy and Dr. Orange took a black, not very new car up to Joy Grove to make them look even more like government officials. Bethany Mae Hampton met them in the reception area, a quiet place with old carpets and dented teak furniture.

“Our founder is really our administrator emeritus now,” Bethany confided to them as she took them into the administration wing. “Dr. Keaton is responsible for day to day operations, and I assist him closely.”

“Thank you,” said Dr. Orange, who had done most of the talking; Jimmy was trying to preserve a strong, silent image, which Dr. Orange gave out as being a result of the WPA not always assigning the best candidates to him. “I just want to know,” he said, “how you can take this heat?”

“Your blood thins out, I suppose. You’re a European gentleman, aren’t you? Are you Austrian?”

“I’m from near there.”

Dr. Keaton’s office was festooned with diplomas, framed commendations, and the odd trout fishing trophy. From behind his desk, Keaton looked at Julius and Jimmy over his glasses. “Gentlemen, welcome, how can I help you? I assure you our certifications are up to date.”

“I’m not saying there’s any trouble, but I was sent to inspect you,” said Dr. Orange.

“We have many patients here at Joy Grove. But you’ll find that our facilities are very modern.”

“I’ll first run down a checklist, and then my associate and I will want to speak with some of your patients.”

“Yes, Bethany filled me in on all that. Is there any patient in particular you wish to see?”

“I looked at your patient records and found myself very interested in this Job fellow.”

“Edgar Job? He is one of our most interesting patients. I hope to write a paper on him.”

“I would very much look forward to reading something from such a distinguished physician,” said Dr. Orange.

[Flattery use by the good doctor.]

“Well,” said Dr. Keaton, obviously pleased to have a new audience to regale, “Mr. Job’s case cannot be considered in isolation. I think what I have is a most peculiar case of folie á deux. It seems he and Mr. Douglas Henslowe—also one of our patients—are locked into a pattern of mutually reinforcing psychosis.”

“That’s not so unusual, when patients meet in places like this…”

“Ah, but their entanglement precedes their mutual incarceration here! They were both involved in some violent incident out in California. Mr. Henslowe is a native of the area and came under my care by the good graces of his family. His grandmother, Virginia, is a real Southern belle of the old school. Marvelous woman. I quickly diagnosed poor Douglas as a paranoid schizophrenic. This incident in California is the focus of his psychosis—the details are quite shocking, I assure you doctor. Through my treatment of Douglas I came to realize that Mr. Job, the only other survivor of the incident, figured prominently in his delusions. I managed to convince the State of California to turn over Job to my care and have been treating them together ever since. Their interactions are quite intriguing! The things they believe together—astounding.”

“Can you give me an idea?”

“I’ve been utilizing a brand new therapy of my own design. I call it ‘confrontational therapy’. I force the two of them together in the hopes that it will help to crumble their delusions away. Unfortunately, when I do this without medicating them first, the results are rather unpredictable. One time they came nearly to blows. Mr. Job was extremely agitated, and shouted at Mr. Henslowe, ‘You tried to kill me! But I’m still here!’”

Ruby, elegantly dressed and somehow managing to barely show any signs of being affected by the heat, marched into Joy Grove, trailed by a flustered Millicent and a darkly glaring Geronimo. Various flunkies tried to get her attention but she shrugged them off with a regal demeanor and long experience in expecting people to be invisible around her. Finally, Bethany Mae Hampton appeared and blocked their way.

“I’d like to see Dr. Keaton,” said Ruby.

“The doctor is currently engaged speaking with two other gentlemen, but I am his personal assistant. How can I help you?”

“Well, then, you may help us. First, I would like some lovely iced tea.”

“Joan, go fetch these fine, fine Yankees something cool to drink.”

“I have,” continued Ruby without acknowledging Miss Hampton’s ire, “a bit of a kerfuffle.”

“A ker-what?”

“A kerfuffle.”

“Is that some sort of…pastry?”

“It’s a problem,” said Ruby with a sigh.

“Well, why didn’t you say so, bless your heart!”

[“Bless your heart” can be used by Southerners to mean, among other things, “Go eff yourself.”]

“It all started about a year ago. My father’s mental health has begun to deteriorate. He has these, these, backflashes, where he remembers his time in the wars. On his worst days, he becomes quite childlike.”

“I am sorry to hear that! I’m not sure if we can help you. Is he Georgian? Or from Virginia or South Carolina or other fine places like that.”

“We’re from Tennessee.”

“Oh, I love Memphis.”

“Memphis is lovely, but not at this time of year. We haven’t found a proper facility for him. They tend to want to put the other patients first.”

“My dear Miss—it is Miss?—Fitzgibbons…of the Nashville Fitzgibbons?”

“No, the Marysville Fitzgibbons.”

“We have a state of the art facility here, but you should know that our fees are somewhat high…I wouldn’t want you to find yourself in an embarrassing…”

Ruby gently primped her hair, the gold bracelet with enormous blood-red rubies on her wrist flashing in the early morning sun.

“…however, I can show you around the facility,” continued Bethany, mollified. “You understand some portions are off limits—we are still one of the busier ports in the South, and sometimes have to take in our share of violent foreign sailors who are dumped here when they grow too unruly. Drug addicts, or poor men driven mad by separation from their families.”

“Excellent, my man will keep notes. However, my niece has a rather delicate disposition…”

“She can wait in one of the day rooms, we only allow nonviolent patients there. I don’t suppose,” Bethany whispered, “you’re thinking of admitting her as well? We do offer a discount on multiple placements…”

“No, she’s just a wallflower.”

“Oh, I sympathize. I was a bit of a wallflower myself once, hard as it is to imagine today.”

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 6)

“Then we tried two drops of Seconal,” said Dr. Keaton as he led Jimmy and Dr. Orange down a hallway to the secure wing. “But that didn’t work at all.”

Jimmy stopped for a second. Strange occult marks had been written and carved into the walls.

“Mr. Job and Mr. Henslowe like to write those on the walls,” said Dr. Keaton, noticing Jimmy’s interest.

“It seems a bit creepy and odd.”

“Well, this is a segregated area, so we don’t need to worry about other patients finding them. Now, would you like to meet Mr. Job and Mr. Henslowe separately or together? If it’s together, I’ll need to fetch some orderlies.”

“Of course we want to see them in the most interesting way,” said Dr. Orange.

“Fine. Just sit down in there and I’ll be along presently.”

Jimmy trailed slowly after them. He had recognized one of the symbols—a three lobed Eye, symbol of a particularly malicious god whose cult he had tangled with. He pushed the horrible memory of a huge, three-legged form with a vicious tentacle for a head out of his mind and followed Dr. Orange through a door.

[Cthulhu Mythos buy by JP; I charged 2 Stability for recognizing the sign.]

The room Jimmy and the doctor found themselves in was one of a million rooms like it. It breathed the institutional miasma of despair, helplessness, and disinfectant. They pulled up rickety chairs next to a scarred wooden table. Heavy U-shaped bolts had been bolted into the wood.

After a while two very large men in plain white scrubs came in, followed by a tall, spare man. He sat down at the table, ignored by the orderlies. “Henslowe,” one of them grunted to Jimmy.

Doug Henslowe had a close-cropped, full beard, going to grey around his lower lip, and the leather skin and squint of a man who had spent long years outdoors. He crossed his arms and looked at Julius and Jimmy with an impassive face. If he was surprised to see them, he didn’t let it register.

From the hallway came some shouts, and two orderlies propelled a tall, disheveled man into the room. His hair was wiry and curly, and he wore filthy gold-rimmed spectacles. He hadn’t shaved for several days, nor, judging from the smell, bathed either. Heavy manacles were chained to a pair of leg irons around his ankles. One of the orderlies forced him into a chair and fastened the manacles to the U-shaped bolts.

“You’re interrupting my work!” shouted Edgar Job. “Get your hands off me! I cannot be disturbed right now.” He noticed Doug Henslowe sitting across from him. “Why am I here with this clown?” he demanded.

“What was so important?” asked Jimmy.

“I was in the middle of doing conic sections. It’s what it’s all about. Conic sections.”

“Conic sections?” asked Dr. Orange.

“I was mapping complex manifolds of spacetime. It’s very difficult and I cannot tolerate any interruptions! I don’t have time—time, that’s funny—for this. Who are you, and why am I here with Henslowe again?”

“Tell me more about your work.”

“My work? You couldn’t understand my work. You’re a psychiatrist. You don’t even understand people. I have made advances that you people couldn’t even conceive of.”

“I studied with Dr. Born.”

“Dr. Born? Dr. Born? That’s supposed to impress me? What’s he, an aerodynamicist now? Give me a break. Now, maybe if you had studied with a theoretical physicist, like Einstein, who kind of sort of has the glimmerings of what might be the very most outer reaches of my ideas. Or maybe that guy Orange. He had some good ideas once. Totally wrong about everything else. Complete moron too. The most boring, uninteresting papers I’ve ever read.”

“And which ideas was he right about?”

Job sighed. “It’s far too complex to explain to you. I see you brought your muscle,” he said, jerking his head at Jimmy. “Is he supposed to intimidate me? Well I’m not afraid of you! I’m not afraid of any of you!”

Job pulled one hand up as far as his chains would allow him and pointed at his head. "The walls here don’t hold me. They can’t keep me prisoner. They’re just one way of looking at things. But look at it another way, I’m free. "

Job slammed his hand back on the table. “I can’t even show you my work. It’s all back in my cell. They won’t give me enough paper. They won’t give me enough pens. I have to write things on the walls. Last year, they painted over six months work. Six months! And then just because I kicked an intern, they gave me three months in solitary. Chained up like an animal. But they couldn’t chain my mind. In my mind I am free.”

“Maybe we can get you some more paper,” said Jimmy.

“Oh I see,” said Job, leering at him. “You’re supposed to be the good cop.”

“I’m not a cop.”

“You know what I mean.” Job threw his head back, sighed, and started muttering to himself, worn out after such an extended period of agitation.

Dr. Keaton leaned in to whisper with Dr. Orange. “Fascinating, isn’t it.”

“It is. Do you think I could maybe see his room? We should leave Mr. Job here, he’s a little agitated. James and the orderlies can watch over him.”

“I’ll be happy to take you down there.”


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