47: Mad Dogs and Investigators

Black monstrous bridges across oily rivers,
Cobwebs of cable by nameless Cthulhu spun;
Catacomb deeps whose dank chaos delivers
Streams of live foetor, that rots in the sun.

Colour and splendour, disease and decaying,
Shrieking and ringing and scrambling insane,
Rabbles exotic to stranger-gods praying,
Jumbles of odour that stifle the brain.

(Adapted excerpt “The Cats” by H.P. Lovecraft, 1925)

17th July 1925

The Clive Expedition At Memphis
The Clive Expedition At Memphis

Irma: “Get back on the phone and get the address!”

Myles quickly calls the operator.

Operator: “I’m sorry Sir, this number is at an unregistered address. I can not find more than this. Perhaps it is in Heliopolis?”

“A new town and suburb of Cairo.”

Wesley suddenly remembers that he saw a thing that looked like it should hold the ankh and sceptre on passing through the gate into the unknown basement. Could this mean that Gavigan’s and his Turkish associates respective sets also have an equivalent here in Cairo? Meanwhile outside, Natalja is impatiently blasting the truck’s horn. Time to move. Cotton plantation workers are heading towards the house. They are all probably cultists.

The investigators head back to Cairo. But what next? The Clive Expedition? Shakti’s business locations in Cairo? Gutpa’s archaeological knowledge gives him an idea of what to expect in Memphis having studied these ancient wonders during his extensive studies in the United States.

The investigators have been up for a long time and fatigue is beginning to take its inevitable toll. Sleep or amphetamines? Wesley checks his medicinal collection. The necessary chemicals are available. There is no time to lose. It is around 7am in the morning and all are now buzzing and ready to face whatever is thrown at them.

The drive to Memphis will be long and dusty. It is Friday, 17th July.

Natalja: “When I drive, it is always a funky ride, boys.”

Gupta driving, Trixie shotgun, Natalja in the back feeding the machine gun with Joe manning it. In the other vehicle, Irma driving and Myles shotgun with Simon and Wesley in the back. Those who lost theirs recast the Skin of Sedefkar.

Midday, Friday, 17th July. It’s hot. The fiery sun malignantly searing the shrieking sand: A place fit surely only for mad dogs and investigators.

Eventually, a camp looms into view, shimmering effervescently in the haze. A molten mirage? It is the Clive Expedition and there are tents surrounded by rolls of razor wire. There are guards armed with rifles. Are the members of the Clive Expedition imprisoned? Or are they being protected?

A number of murmuring diggers can also be seen as the trucks get nearer to the camp. A couple of guards walk towards the gate. From amongst them is jaundiced European figure.

Myles: “As-salamu alaykum! There have been inquiries from the relatives of those who were killed here, and I have been instructed to follow up.”

Guard: “Can I see your ID?”

Myles: “Certainly.”

Guard: “Well you are clearly from the embassy, may I ask who ordered the inquiry?”

Some hesitation. In the same moment another man approaches. He has a pistol and a whip. “What’s going on here Henry?”

Irma: “Mr. Clive. We have some information about the whereabouts of the stolen artefact.”

Dr. Clive: “This is my colleague and deputy Mr. Winfield. What is this about? A story? There’s a few of you about: why so many? What happened to your vehicle? An accident? But I am forgetting myself! Come in for some tea! Your companions too? We are just having a light lunch and sitting out the sun, as the locals do. I could have one of my men look at your lorry?”

A middle aged, portly man appears:

“Oh hello!”

“Some of my colleagues are at the Miskatonic.”

Dr. Clive: “It has a good reputation. Oh, is that Simon Grand? Orient Express?”

An elderly lady appears, lots of bangles etc. A bit batty invites the investigators into the tent. Out of the sun, the air is a little cooler.

Clive introduces everyone in his team and explains what happened to the expedition.

Irma: “There were secret chambers beneath the Sphinx.”

Sprech: “Ha! I knew it!”

Irma: “The sarcophagus and the mummy was destroyed.”

Sprech: “Are you sure? Why? It has no value, purely out of superstition?!”

Irma: “Yes, probably. It is rife here.”

Sprech: “You mentioned Nitocris…”

Irma: “You were sent on a job. Someone here knows the real reason…”

He looks round the room. There are some surprised, angry, confused and indignant expressions.

Winfield: “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the niggers.”

Irma: “You’ll find that your guards are all members of a cult. Anyone here heard of Omar Shakti?”

Winfield: “What is this nonsense?”

Myles: “Why are you here? It’s over.”

Irma: “Doctor Gardener…”

Gardener: “My theory is the highest part of a long buried city is the Sphinx. I suspect if we look further we might find a way down there. But after all of that business with the police we decided it was no longer feasible.”

Irma: “Well in that case we’ll leave you to look for your pots.”

Clive: “Our purpose was to investigate the pyramid. We suspected there would be more hidden chambers. We found one, but after the mishap we decided it would be better to leave it.”

Gardener approaches Irma and appeals to him for help, explaining in whispered tones of a great evil and the strange behavior of his colleagues in the expedition. “Sprech translated the hieroglyphs about Queen Nitocris. I have to find out how to get into the area beneath the Sphinx.”

Winfield goes over to Trixie, who is fixing the truck: “

Winfield: Nothing like the wondrous female form. Marvellous.”

Trixie: “You need to put that tongue back in your head you crazy fool!”

Irma explains to Gardener that the sarcophagus and the girdle was destroyed by the investigators. Agatha Broadmoor also explains about the Black Pharaoh and the great cruelty of his cult and Queen Nitocris. “Perhaps the dark, dark equivalent of R’a? Explain the evil in men’s hearts.”

Agatha Broadmoor whispers: “I had a vision. A vision of Queen Nitocris roaming the underworld of the Ghouls before arising to subjugate mankind: I am here to stop her!”

Dr. Clive: “I’m afraid we have to get back to work. Lunch is over! What do you intend to do next. Do you have any real evidence? Will you involve the authorities? Where are you staying gentlemen?”

Sprech: “Do you believe the treasures are still intact? My translations? You want to see them? There are some very interested parties in these items. Superior races from the past!”

Bloomberg puts his arm around Sprech conspiratorially, whispering: “Now listen buddy, you have the connections, dontcha? Why don’t just you and me cut a deal?”

Sprech’s eyes glaze, as if he is staring into some distant future:

Sprech:“Not really, but I believe it is our Schiksal, our fate, that there will be a great visionary leader of das Volk, to arise and command our people to greatness and fulfil its ultimate destiny. There are other like-minded men who believe as I do, but with money, who can pay you what you want. I could meet you at the hotel in a few days. I will wire ahead. Do not fear, they will not betray you, not like those Jewish rats that betrayed the German fatherland!”

The Red Pyramid
The Red Pyramid

The investigators unanimously decide to leave and head back to Cairo and get back to the Dark Mistress for some rest. Myles notices that there are a lot of locals at the dig site and they are not at Friday prayers. Something is not right…

Following the long, dusty, hot and uncomfortable drive back to the banks of the Nile in Cairo where the Dark Mistress is moored, Wesley brings Natalja onto the boat and suddenly they both hear voices. Intruders. The Professor and the Russian back out with their pistols drawn and signal to the others to join. Joe and Trixie head up onto the boat.

Simon bribes one of the street hawkers:

Ali: “Sir, the only people I have seen were Australians who turned up with trucks and porters and took everything off your boat. Maybe some porters are still there?”

Meanwhile as the others get onto the boat they fail to keep quiet. Irma and Simon follow up onto the boat.

Wesley throws a tear-gas grenade down below deck and it doesn’t take long before one of them staggers up the stairs towards the deck:

Cultist: “Water! Water!”

Myles convincingly speaks to him in Arabic:

Myles: “This way my brother!”

Wesley shoots him from close range with his .32 and the cultist drops to the floor. Donelly shoots another following up the stairs with his shotgun, obliterating him. A second shot blasts a hole in Aubrey Penhew’s ornate cabin door.

Myles: “Come up and we will not kill you.”

Cultist: “You lie! The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh will never die!”

Myles: “We are now in charge of the Black Pharaoh. We have everything. We will bring the darkness!”

One of the injured cultists:

Cultist No2: “I believe you, I will follow you!”

Cultist: “Traitor!”

He is grappled by his colleagues after a scuffle. Joe shoots another and the last survivor surrenders:

Cultist No2: “I am loyal! I do not know where they are? The English and they came here some months ago and have taken some brothers, some who served with the Turks in the war. We were told to wait and then we would be connected. Why did they do this? One of them had… They were searching. One of them had a machine that cut through the locks and they took something very heavy. The white man did not go in but he told them what to do.”

Now the radioactive material is in the hands of the cult. They took anything occult that they could find including the African mask.

Wesley: “You know the coffee shop where the brothers meet? It is on the square.”

Radioactive decay from the material on the boat is potentially lethal. Wesley’s Geiger counter indicate that the engine room has been contaminated…

Journal Wesley

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