A Favour For The King – Chapter Three

A Favour For The King – Chapter Three

Thursday, May 14, 1925 – Penobscot River, Maine:

About 12 miles upstream from Bangor on the Penobscot River.

McGee, Cherry and MacNifey decided to go back for the injured lumberjack, recently one of four of the Clenton brothers but now the only one. What the hell were those guys thinking? What was their plan? I guess too much fresh air and Mother Nature turns you into a real numbskull.

Maine Loggers
Maine Loggers

Ed wanted to go further up the Penobscot river past Lincoln to the Christoff dig site. McGee suspected they may have had ulterior motives. Something didn’t add up. In fact, nothing added up. Each of the crew had a couple of pints of moonshine on them. We’d seen what we’d seen in Atlantic City and you don’t forget that kind of shit. Call it superstition, but when you’ve seen a flying giant mole/insect thing you’ll believe in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. And their fish-faced cousin who lives under the sea with all his crazy fish-faced buddies.

The injured lumberjack got some first aid from McGee. He’s was stable but still out cold.

McGee threw water from the Penobscot in his face.

Lumberjack: “What the hell? What you guys doing with this injun? Me and mah brothers, we done thought you was with that monster!”

McGee: “Those guys your brothers? Congratulations, hick, you’re now the sole heir to the estate.”

Moonshiner: “Jeez. All my brothers? How’m I gonna run the still on my own? Darn it! George had the stoopid idea and he was stubborn and drunk so there was no way we could stop him chopping down the spirit tree. I saw the thing. It was about nine feet tall!”

MacNifey and McGee both gained a psychological insight into his demeanour: this guy was genuinely scared.

Moonshiner: “It came crashing through the forest, George, he just said it was all hokum. But we saw it. Tall like a guy at the carney on stilts. Skinny and with one sweep of its leg took the top of George’s head off. We shot it, but our bullets done nothing to that varmint. Scabrous barky skin – like a lizard. Face was like a real old wrinkly guy – sunken eyes. We know people who know people who said they seen it but George just didn’t believe it. And he just had to find out for hisself!”

McGee: “You screwed up, kid.”

Cherry: “You know Cagle?”

Moonshiner: “Yeah, Joe. He’s a bad fella. Real shady. Joe Cagle’s still is up near the dig from the university.”

McGee: “I’m real sorry about your brothers but you messed up. Why didn’t you shout out? A quick parley and things could’ve gone so differently. Hell, I saved your life though so we can call it quits. We’re going up to get Cagle.”

Moonshiner: “Well I guess ah’m real beholden to you then but I’ll be going now. Don’t want no more truck with Razorshins. I got me some friends in these woods so I’ll be fine.”

The Fixers contemplated the best way to end this meeting and decided to just leave him to his own luck, despite a glint in Ed’s eye as he fondled his hammer. The journey upstream alone the Penobscot river continued.


Once the Fixers reached Lincoln and moored the boat on the Penobscot. They took out the spark plugs from the engine and detached the rudder. No sense in giving Cagle a means of escape…

McGee, Cherry and MacNifey went into Lincoln while Ed and Running Deer stayed on the boat. First stop was the General Store whose owner was Hank.

McGee: “Good day. Do you know that Hal is short for Henry or Harold?”

Hank: “No! You guys here with the dig? Some of those gals are real lookers! Razorshins? Don’t tell me you believe all that stuff?”

McGee; “We saw what he did to the Clenton brothers. Only one left.”

Hank: “What – oh no! They were good boys, I guess. The River Man ain’t gonna like that. He’s an injun – I mean a native American – but he’s a half breed so no one likes him! He would be upset if a spirit tree was cut down. I saw Christoff talking to him. I don’t like that guy. He wasn’t brought up right. His dollar was good but I don’t like the man.”

McGee: “We were warned off by someone called Nagle? Cagle?”

Hank: “Yeah he murdered poor Harry – read in the paper. Real sad story.”

McGee. “Where should we avoid? How do we steer clear of Cagle?”

Hank: “He’s a nasty piece of work. I sold him pieces for his still. We purify water up here. A lot of water. I haven’t seen him since that news came up. He ain’t got no friends. He catches what he needs to eat. He don’t need no one. The excavation purchased three spades and three shovels. I guess three of four people were doing the work, and no prizes for guessing who’s taking it easy. He wanted a bar of silver. That was real odd… Not exactly cheap! They also ordered metallurgical equipment, bellows etc.”

This was interesting news. Silver? What were they trying to do?

Professor Christoff had been seen talking to River Man – unusual to see him speaking to anyone for any length of time. Penobscot or Panawahpskek speak a language called Eastern Abenaki – even though they are not Abenaki. Ed said it was something called a lingua franca that was spoken in different dialects all along the north east coast. Real interesting Ed!

The Fixers stocked up on supplies and left then took a stroll through the town. There was someone observing from up on the hill across the Penobscot river through a telescope. Riverman? The Fixers decided to investigate but he ran away as they approached.

Running Deer explained that River Man was an outcast.

The Fixers decided to go to the campsite first before pursuing River Man. So upriver, along the Penobscot river, the boat went, Vincenzo kept an eye out from hiding to see if anyone was following…

On arrival at the site, the Fixers split into two groups to check for tracks.

Ripogenus Falls River
Ripogenus Falls River

MacNifey found old tracks that didn’t indicate anything out of the ordinary. A nearby ridge to the campsite had three spirit trees on it. Unusual. Running Deer did not find any unusual tracks. The Fixers reached the main campsite comprising of four tents on one hill with a separate Native American style tipi on a separate hill. Some animal tracks were in the immediate vicinity but nothing unusual. Ed noticed in one of the big tents amongst the metallurgic equipment there was evidence that someone had been making bullets. Pistol calibre. For a .45.

In Christoff’s tent there were some notebooks in an unfamiliar language. It was his journal and it was in Latin. There were ten entries.

In Helen’s tent her journal was there and in English. No mention of Razorshins. There was also a tipi which was presumed to belong to River Man. It was complete with a Native American blanket and accoutrements. Vincenzo found a loaded Colt .45 in Rose’s tent. It was loaded with 6 silver bullets. The bullets were removed then shared between the Fixers. Four each. Running Deer disguised the recently made tracks as best he could and the Fixers headed off towards the excavation site.

“I’m Sitting on Top of the World”, “Yes Sir, that’s my Baby” “Alabamy Bound” “Squeeze Me” were the four records found in Helen’s tent. Detailed maps of the dig site were found in Rinecker’s tent which the Fixers took with them to examine the site. Caution was the better part of valour and the Fixers were worried. Running Deer was spooked:

Running Deer: “I hear no animals. Everything has gone from here.”

Once he had said it, the Fixers noticed the complete silence. Eerie. The dig site was meticulously pegged out. It looked very professional. McGee spotted a spirit tree some way off (about ½ mile).

Running Deer: “This is a burial place for my people. This would displease Horace and Philomena. They did not ask our people for permission. But this is an old burial ground.”

A couple of exposed skeletons could be seen partially unearthed. Some artefacts had been labelled and left out. The journal of Professor Christoff was transcribed and replaced so that it was not missed.

Next step? Go to Cagle’s place? Or track down River Man? Or wait for the archaeologists to turn up as they come up the Penobscot river?

Indian Island
Indian Island

McGee decided we should go to Cagle’s still. It was located along a tributary to the Penobscot. The tributary of the Penobscot branches off at Mattawamkeag. As we were approaching the rough area smoke could be seen from a small fire…

Would Cagle be so foolish to draw attention to himself with an open fire? Could it be a trap?

McGee and Ed were the meat in the sandwich as Running Deer, MacNifey and Vincenzo waited for the trap to be sprung… They attempted to hide and cover the others.

Running Deer almost stepped into a snare but luckily Vincenzo spotted it and warned him before he stepped on it… They continued… Running Deer was shot! A bullet to the shoulder! From a rifle. Both Vincenzo and MacNifey started to close in on him from either flank as Running Deer, despite the acute pain from his injured shoulder, provided cover with his rifle. Running Deer hit him! MacNifey and Vincenzo closed in on him with Ed and McGee closing in. It was a big guy. Arms like tree trunks. A rifle with a scope and blood running down his head. He’d been hit in the head but was still alive. Vincenzo handcuffed him. Running Deer, MacNifey and Ed took point while McGee attempted first aid. Running Deer gave a positive ID on Cagle. We’d got our man. McGee stabilised him. Cagle was carried back to the boat. He was heavy. Cagle was armoured with snares, knives and bad body odour. We got back to the boat and decided to take our chances to get at least as far as Lincoln despite having to travel the river in darkness. Running Deer was out of action recovering from his injury but Ed had no problem piloting the boat in the starlight. Out of the forest on the wide river it was a lot brighter, the starlight was good enough to navigate quite clearly.

At Lincoln McGee met Father Wells. A Presbyterian of Welsh origins.

Father Wells: “We are all God’s children I will help as best I can.”

He provided medical assistance to Running Deer but was not shown Cagle.

Father Wells: “He’s been shot! People round here call it protecting their own but I don’t hold with it. I see someone has already cleaned the wound. Good job!”

Father Wells did a great job too and got the bullet out cleanly and then dressed the wound.

Father Wells: “It’ll heal now, he should rest for a few days.”

McGee donated $10 to the church.

MacNifey and McGee took the first watch and saw a few animals but nothing else of note. McGee heard distant chanting from the other side of the Penobscot river (West – and where River Man was spotted).

Looking up, MacNifey saw the glowing half-moon hanging in the night sky. Black as midnight on a moonless night a bizarre shadow moves within the umbra of moonlight. MacNifey spotted it and his brain suddenly freezes. It’s the jumble sale of body parts again, only this time it was all in one piece and moving with purpose. Everyone has a breaking point and the human mind is only as strong as the truth it perceives. And when that truth starts to erode, the boundary between being a regular Fixer and being a cracked nut-job is crossed just as easily as icing some rival from across town. MacNifey’s mind gradually put enough pieces together to see that this puzzle was way bigger than his mind could handle so it did the only thing it could. It shut down. Eyes went blank, limbs went slack and jaw dropped. A steady stream of saliva accumulated in the corner of his mouth before slowly descending to his chest in a thick slow-flowing stream onto his jacket. No lights were on. There was no one at home.

McGee, who only caught a glimpse of the creature and was spared the mind-wrenching terror had seen this kind of shell-shocked reaction before in the trenches and woke the others. MacNifey was sent below deck. He had to be led as he couldn’t walk or do anything else without being directed

McGee: “I saw it; it was one of those flying things! It flew across the face of the moon. It is called a Byakhee I believe? You heard of this Running Deer?”

Running Deer: “No but perhaps some of our elders have? Philomena, the wife of Horace knows most about medicine”

Friday, May 15, 1925 – Indian Island, Maine:

Visiting Philomena again, who had spoken so little at our meeting after the theatre; we found that she was clever as her daughter and also well versed in the occult or what Native Americans refer to as “Medicine”.

Indian Island Postcard
Indian Island Postcard

Philomena: “These things are not of this world. Your friend is in shock but he will return to his senses soon.”

“Alas yes I too know of the one called Riverman. He is shunned. His parents were drawn to the dark medicine of Ithaqua and the Wendigo. This is very bad medicine. So evil and so very dangerous that it is forbidden even to speak of it. Any who look into this branch of medicine are banished. They are no longer Panawahpskek. After the woe that was brought on this land with the creation of Razorshins, Assaminasqua decreed that none should ever invoke Ithaqua again.”

“But some of our people kept the ritual alive in secret. It was brought down from misguided father to misguided son. In this way what should have been lost was kept. It was passed to Riverman. I lament for him. He does not understand the evil power he wields. Beware of him! We thought he was in the depths of the deep forest. Something must have brought him back to the area near Lincoln.”

“What you and Running Deer tell me of the ancient burial ground is most interesting news to Horace and me. We will mount an expedition to go and look at it. Christoff was wrong to disturb our dead without permission. We shall Petition the Indian Agent and the Mayor in Bangor. His dig should be stopped while the matter is investigated. It is illegal.”

The Fixers then planned to sail down the Penobscotriver and head back to Boston with their prize. Job done. If only it could be that easy…

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