A Favour For The King – Chapter Four

A Favour For The King – Chapter Four

Friday, May 15, 1925 – Penobscot River, Maine:

The sun had raised high in the pale blue late spring sky as we returned to Indian Island with our human cargo stored safely away below decks.  Taking no chances with that filthy beast, Cagle got the full treatment of steel cuffs and a rope collar rigged to a bell so that if he starts a wriggling McGee administers another dose of sleepy night-night potion.

We sent the wounded brave, Running Deer back to his people on Indian Island. The redskin kid done real good under pressure and is well paid for his contribution.

Moored up at the busy old dock we took time to marvel at the vast mountains of lumber stretching as far as the eye can see.  Smokestacks spewing black smoke high above as the whirring whine of the steam powered saw mills drone unremittingly like an ugly nagging wife.

McNifey climbed above deck as he slowly resurfaced from his mental traumas and began to master the dark thoughts that assailed him. He pulled McGee to one side and unburdens his soul to his friend and mentor.

McNifey: “Boss I don’t know if I can take this anymore…all the beatings and abuse I lived with at the orphanage…my failed marriage…you know, I thought I was tough….you know how many wise guys I’ve whacked and how much heat I can handle…you know that, don’t you!?

All that crazy stuff in Atlantic City, those fish guys, that crazy broad with her spells….I thought I was good…but…but….when I saw that flying one creature zoo it was too much….I actually snapped, it honest to goodness broke me….I need to go back to Boston…back to my kinda madness!”

McGee: “Listen to me Billy, listen good!’ McGee did what he does best and gets inside heads – Jesus the guy could sell timber to the Solomons. ‘We’re heading back to Boston right now. Don’t sweat it, you just had a taste of what a lot of guys brought back from the Front…you know, Shell- shock…it can take the toughest guys. The best cure is a good dose of booze and broads…and I’m your pharmacist…so don’t overthink it…you need to let off steam…hey, anyhow now you’ve caught up with us deep fried Army vets.”

McNifey: “But that Byakhee was for real! So the sooner we get back the better.”

McGee said with a touch too much conviction.

McGee then walked McNifey and Morello over for a pow-wow with Chief Horace and his wife, Philomena, on Indian Island. We ask them not to say anything about finding Cagle. We needed to get the hell out of here without attracting any more attention and deliver The King’s parcel with the minimum of fuss.

Chief Horace and Family
Chief Horace and Family

While Ed was alone on the boat looking after Cagle he got the curious sensation of being watched. An involuntary shiver made its way down his spine.

As soon as the other three came back to the boat from their pow-wow on Indian Island, McNifey and Cherry too had that very same uncomfortable, supernatural sensation of being watched.

Back on board they took cover behind the gunnels trying to scope for whoever this mystery peeping Tom might be.

Cherry voiced our thoughts.

Morello: “It’s gotta be that whacky Indian guy, River Man. It was him scoping us the first day we got here.”

But despite a military calibre recon of their surroundings they spied nothing untoward.

Ed went to start the engine, but was greeted with the harsh scraping of metal on metal and an unhealthy rasping, like the death rattle of a dying tramp. He rushed down to the engine room and to his complete shock and dismay he found that the prop shaft has been sabotaged. McNifey joins Ed, who is completely flummoxed as to how anyone could have got on board and trashed the engine while he was mere feet away.

It had the hallmarks of some kind of summoned creature – perhaps like those we encountered at the Mansion outside Atlantic City? One of those Dimensional Shambler things perhaps!? Was this also the work of River man!? If so, he had to die.

Dimensional Shambler
Dimensional Shambler

Though lacking in finesse our saboteur had caused some serious damage; so we called on some local help from Indian Island – it’s an expensive 4 hour repair.

Meanwhile Ed paced the about the boat like an angry father waiting for his daughter to come home from a date. Peering at anyone he didn’t know with wild-eyed suspicion.

Cagle was still out cold and aside from being filthy and lice ridden, there appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary about him.

Horace and Philomena came from Indian Island to the boat to take a look see. The sage old Chief of the Penobscot advised us to stay on Indian island so could help us with the watches. We reluctantly agreed.

As the Sun bean to set McNifey was visited by a rather odd idea that a star, Aldebaran, has some importance to us, something about those Byakhees and when they can be called forth!

Now, to the very best of McGee’s knowledge, Billy ‘The Accountant’ McNifey, wouldn’t know one end of a telescope from his butthole, unless he was sneaking a peak at some half-dressed chubby broad across the street. So the idea that he knew anything about some barely known, low hanging red star had McGee’s jaw hoisted at half-mast.

Was it another manifestation of Billy’s recent ‘episode’? Or….nah….he’s gotta still be part nutty!

As the sun finally set over Indian Island, the unsettling sensation of being watched mysteriously abated…but why?

Watches were taken with two of Horace’s best men from Indian Island helping us out.

Indian Store
Indian Store

On the first watch McNifey hears a strange whistling sound – possibly the sound of pan-pipes!? The Indians failed to hear them but he woke the rest of the boys just in case.

Within moments first Cherry then McGee, who were cat napping below decks, saw something ripple the very fabric of the air itself and static began crackling like miniature lightning storms.

Something began to coalesce then take its full horrific form in front of them; it was indeed the same creature we first encountered at the mansion – a Dimensional Shambler in all its rotten anthropologian malevolence.

It immediately reached out with ungainly, misshapen claws in Cagle’s direction; whether to kill or retrieve we could in no way tell.

However we were well prepared and first Cherry then McGee annihilated the beast in a foetid candy floss fountain of rotten fur, stinking blood and what passed for innards, courtesy of a flurry of lead shot from their trench guns – the close quarters weapon of choice for any discerning Fixer.

We all gagged as the inhuman putrescent consumed us.

The whistling stopped just before it appeared McNifey confirmed.

After this stench ridden furore had subsided McGee took the 1AM watch just in time to stand agape as a giant red star bobbed above the horizon. Unspoken, he silently wondered if a Byakhees might indeed have been roused from some dark realm. But how in darnation had McNifey figured it out!?


Then before too long our two Indian guides, from  Indian Island, beckoned McGee to listen into the vast wilderness – and he clearly heard the sound of chanting wafting over from the forest on the far side of the river.

Immediately McGee hoarse whispered the crew awake.

McGee: “We’ve got maybe half an hour to get across the river and get to whoever’s making that incantation.”

McGee implored.

Like a clockwork machine the Fixers readied themselves for action.

Ed piloted the boat with some skill, successfully gunning the vessel upstream past Indian Island, and then quietly drifting it back to roughly where we had heard the chanting.

But then, just as we approached the far shoreline opposite Indian Island, the chanting stopped.  Perhaps they had heard something of our approach above their own ululations.

To the aft of our 40 footer, McNifey and Cherry spotted a Byakhee swooping in from the South.  They took cover behind sandbag emplacements that we had readied on deck earlier that day.

Like an enormous misshapen bat it swoops in fast, the sound of its leathery wings pumping like vast bellows…it is fast…very fast! An emaciated grin leers out from behind savage mandibles. This thing from beyond certainly didn’t get any prettier close up.

Cherry cried out a warning as he spied another Byakhee following up, perhaps a half mile behind. The first arrowed down toward deck and veered towards the hatch…it was sentient and knew what it was looking for…..Cagle!

Cherry fired first but missed with a wild shot.

McNifey though, as if steeled by his recent episode, unleashed a savage volley from his Thompson and rips the flying monstrosity to pieces. At least they can be hurt by normal weaponry!

McNifey's Tommy Gun
McNifey’s Tommy Gun

But before he had time to enjoy his sharp shooting, McNifey was suddenly struck to the floor by a burning, crushing sensation, as if his heart were gripped in a giant vice. He gasped in surprised desperation.

At the same moment McGee had called on Ed to join him ashore to find the source of the chanting. They leapt over the side of the boat, but in his excitement Ed had stumbled badly, almost knocking himself out on a part submerged rock.

With McNifey writhing on deck, the Fixers desperately looked for a glimpse of whoever was orchestrating this maelstrom of terror!

Cherry fired a flare from his Very pistol, immediately throwing the shoreline into a jagged and eerie relief. But still no sight of our foe

Within moments the second beast swoops down as McNifey instinctively rolled aside in the nick of time, as the second Byakhee also made for the hatchway that leads to Cagle.

A shotgun blast seemed to rip the very air apart and the assemblage of pick n mix animal parts bore a brutish assault…it stumbled but steadied itself, intent only one thing…liberating Joe Cagle.

McNifey appeared to make a recovery, the dread crushing sensation stopping as quickly as it had started – but how?

Cherry shot and hit again, but the creature remained upright as it effortlessly ripped open the hatch to the deck below and starts to descend. In its path are the two Indians who were looking after Cagle. They both took one look at this monstrosity that should not be and collapsed in terror stricken shock. Oh dear!

Ashore both McGee and a somewhat dazed Berkley failed to locate any sign of our enemy. Are they invisible?

As the Byakhee attempted to complete its heinous task, Cherry shoots a third time, finally destroying the beast. It slumps forward, but almost immediately started to dissolve and within heart beats there is nothing to prove that this was no more than a waking nightmare.

At last McNifey spotted a figure hidden in thick undergrowth and immediately fired off a round that would and should have its target…but the figure merely raised an outstretched arm with his palm faced towards the bullet and it deflected harmlessly aside.

Ye gods, what is this sorcery and where could we buy some!?

The Fixers then all spotted the outcast native, rightly assuming it was indeed the mysterious River Man. A volley of shots rang out, and again McNifey should have hit but is thwarted by that cursed outstretched redskin palm.

McGee then fired a crack shot from his Mondragon, now fitted with a rifle scope, which knocked the Indian clean off his feet and on to the forest floor.  As McGee and Berkley moved forward and approached the prostrate figure, they caught the sound of movement coming toward them from the woods; it was heading their way at some pace. The sound of crashing undergrowth and splintering timber follow the now fleeing duo.

As McNifey, still on the boat, peered into the woods he spots Razorshins drunkenly careening through the undergrowth at maniacal speed. Though shocked his mind remains intact.


McGee hollered out to:

McGee: “Get out the goddamned hooch and lay it down boys!”

Cherry reacts quickest and sprints from the boat with two kegs.

Amazingly this does the trick and Razorshins stopped short and began to guzzle down the booze.

Razorshins crashed into view. Eight or nine feet tall with a hideous cadaverous body with misshapen elingated limbs, ending with clawed handed and feet still showing dried blood of an old kill.  Its long legs distended, with bare bone honed to a keen edge along both lower legs. This monstrosity was aptly named indeed. As it drank its rotting flesh was unable to contain the liquid so it soon began leaking out of his cadaverous body.

Razorshins stood swaying before us and is within plain sight, but we just could not decide whether to seize the moment and try and kill this horrific abomination. McGee shouted at Cherry to ready his flare pistol, thinking that the alcohol and flames could destroy this ancient malfeasance.  But doubt clouded our minds and the moment was lost. Razorshins headed off towards River Man’s body, which it picked up and carried off into the forest.

We waited until dawn then followed his tracks. The trail of destruction was easy enough to follow but by the time we got as far as Howland (pop 1000), 16 miles away, the whole thing seemed pretty pointless.  We decided to head back to Indian Island and pay someone to ferry us there.

Finally back at our boat we decided to make the long journey back to Boston.

As night fell on the Penobscot River by Indian Island, we had reached the small town of Bucksport and set anchor there. The unnerving sense of being watched revisits both Berkley and McNifey.

It had to be Cagle!!

We were woken by the sound of Ed screaming a warning. An enormous beast of a least 40’ has appeared above the boat (Shantak?). It is the size of a house and looked akin to a fantastical dragon. It was winged, its vast body coloured black with red tinges. Vast jaws open revealing devilish rows of yellowish white teeth. Trailing into the air behind it a sinuous spiked tail weaved back and forth, as it had a mind of its own.


McNifey fired a long burst at it. But to no avail as he watched the bullets bounce off its armoured hide.

It swept down and landed on the deck ripping open the hatch in one bound, but not before it had taken a massive gouge from Ed’s head, as it flicked him aside with a flick of its barbarous jaws.

As it made it way below, it was assailed by a barrage of lead, but still to no discernible end.  McGee and Cherry fired at its prehensile tail which was writing around, searching out for Cagle. Trench guns to the ready they fired off more rounds into the tail, it takes damage but not enough to stop it.

McGee’s last defiant shot was then fired into the limp body of Cagle, now wrapped in a coil of armoured sinew.  Then it simply flew off into the dark night.

What are we gonna tell Solomon!?

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