Monday 27th October 1926 – Dr Bruce Northeast’s house, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
While Henry boards up the windows, preparing for the natives’ attack, we argue about what to do. Otto is still unconscious, the black scales spreading up his forearm. Tobias wants to take Jack Stirling away from the island to see if this reverses the spell/disease. If this does not work and the day of the ritual approaches, Tobias is resigned to the necessity of killing Jack for he would be lost anyway, and the ritual must not happen.
We all wonder whether King Kaliko’s stone might be used to control the Lurker so that if we were able to reset the timeline again someone would not be have to use the Sharp Stone and thus get ‘infected’. However, Tobias is dubious as to whether trying to reset the timeline will even work. I pointed out that we really only have Otto’s word for it, and he seems less rational than ever. Yes, there is the unexplained phenomenon of the Sharp Stone appearing in his pocket, but this does not mean he travelled in time; for all we know, the Stone magically transported itself through space just as Otto needed it.
I outline my plan to protect Otto and Jack from the cultists while we tried to obtain the cleric’s stone. Put simply, we would appeal to the military for protection. They could provide protection and medical aid. They would be interested in keeping Otto alive because he knows the whereabouts of Sebastian Senegal, who they are desperate to find. We do not discuss this much, to be candid it does not deal with the core issue of what to do overall.
Otto wakes up unexpectedly. We were all convinced that he would no longer waken (based on what Mme Josephine had said). Otto wants us to attempt to reset the timeline. Resetting means he will have a chance to avoid using the Sharp Stone and therefore he would not turn into the scaly creature he is becoming. Jack is already lost, he says, unconvinced that Tobias’ idea of taking Jack away physically will prove anything. The reset allows at least one of us to avoid using the Sharp Stone, and thus saving everyone apart from Jack, who cannot be saved. But Otto cannot convince us this is wise, for he has no real idea what the reset would do (would all of us reset with memories or just him?) and how to prevent the Lurker from killing us all as happened the first time.
Jonah wonders whether if we had the cleric’s stone it would disappear on reset or might, like the Sharp Stone, also travel back in time.
We argue about whether we should cut off Otto’s arm. If we were going to reset, Otto would have to try to stay awake for four to five days until the night of the ritual, otherwise the progression of the ‘infection’ would increase dramatically. Otto points out that he needs to be cogent to try to control the Lurker (to get past it), but this may not be possible even if he stays awake because we do not know how fast the disease will progress. Tobias still wants to take Jack from Haiti on a boat for 2 days, if not change is noticed there would be time to get back for the ritual. Otto is not keen on this because it will the be very difficult to return Jack to the hut without the cultists knowing.
Surprisingly, despite earlier misgivings, Otto agrees there is logic in cutting off his arm to try to slow down or prevent further infection taking over his body. However, we cannot decide whether to do it. The procedure would be very dangerous, with potential death through blood loss or infects, and none of us have the necessary medical skills. I point out that we could take him to the military hospital, but the others are right in saying they would either or consent to remove the arm, or would detain one or all of us while investigating the contagion. The other issue is also that Otto is very weak, injured by the Lurker and a gun shot wound. He might not survive the amputation.
A twig snaps outside. Suddenly, our arguing is forgotten with the realisation that the attackers are here. Henry spots shapes moving at the front of the house. We tell Bruce to hide behind the sette and position ourselves to one side of the room to avoid crossfire. I arm myself with a kitchen knife and one of Otto’s guns, a .38 revolver. Jonah and Henry barricade some of the windows with furniture. At the last minute we decide to create a decoy by placing Jack Stirling in the rocking chair, covered in a blanket with a hat over his face as if sleeping. This should momentarily distract the attackers.
The front door is kicked open. Two large black men wielding machetes charge into the living room. Jonah fires at the assailants first, downing one of them. Tobias and I also fire off shots, but miss. Henry attempts to gun the other man down with his shotgun, but it goes wide. The big man leaps over the settee and brings down his machete in a vicious slashing motion, burying it into Jonah’s arm. Jonah goes down. I deliver a sound roundhouse to his head and snapping the atttacker’s neck.
We only just have time to check that Jonah is not bleeding to death before we hear the sound of wood smashing in the bedroom. More assailants are breaking through Henry’s shutters. We quickly bar the front door with the rocking chair (and occupant). Two people appear with machetes in the doorway to the bedroom. Henry blows them away with his shotgun. The last of the five attackers start hammering at the front door. We try to shoot him through it, but he manages to force his way into the room. Otto finishes him off with his trusty Luger.
We check for signs of others, but it does appear that these are the five attackers Otto told us about. Well at least he was right about that. So how much else of what he has told us is true? Henry delivers some crucial first aid to Jonah.
Unrstandably, Dr Northeast is shaken by the attack. He declares he will leave Haiti tomorrow morning, and starts packing.
The attackers were all armed with machetes and each has a third eye drawn on their foreheads. Cultists then. We begin discussing our options again. Midway through speaking, Otto falls unconscious again.
Henry, Tobias and I have decided we should cut off Otto’s arm while he is unconscious. Since there is now no danger of causing him to fall unconscious through the procedure, it should be safer to attempt it. But none of us has much idea what needs to be done. Between us, a reporter, archaeologist and artist, none of us has the required training. I spent some time in the army, but I am not a medic. Henry has some basic knowledge, but cannot perform the procedure himself because of his injuries. Tobias has knowledge of anatomy though, which we rely on to determine how and where to cut. Bruce provides us with the necessary implements, saw, cloths, alcohol, fire and iodine. Yet none of us rushes to step forward to undertake the task, knowing how dangerous it will be.
Then Jonah wakes up. He willingly agrees to do the cutting. I hold Otto’s arm steady. Henry plies Otto with liquor to ensure he stays unconscious and Tobias makes ready with iodine and a hot knife to cauterise the wound.
With swift care, we separate Otto’s arm at the elbow, above the area of contagion. We had decided this was the least risky method of removing the forearm. It is a gruesome procedure, but all seems to go well and I suture the wound withe spare skin and a mending kit. Not ideal, but as good as we can manage with our skills and a healthy dose of luck. Henry says he will check the wound over time to see if the infection re-appears, however, there did not appear to be any internally. Tobias notices that the scales still spread on the severed arm.
Our delicate task completed, we must now decide whether to risk a reset (in which one or more of us may come out injured or dead from the cultists of lurker) or to leave Haiti to its deadly magic and strange rituals.