The Haitian Affair

Day 1: Where and when are we?
Where and when are we?

Dear Reader,

I must first assure you that I am of sound mind and this is not some fantastical tale I will impart to you in this series of articles. I hope you will be as eager as I, Rupert W Hayes (an independent journalist) in the uncovering of the true nature of things and sequence of events which encompass what I have called The Haitian Affair.

Day 1: 30 October 1926 Elmwood Military Hospital, Haiti.

I recall arriving in Boston on 23rd September 1926. I do not recall the five weeks between then and now, nor travelling to this strange humid hospital in Haiti. These are two of the mysteries I and my companions are determined to solve, along with the disturbing and seemingly random episodes of sudden unconsciousness. But I am getting ahead of myself.

We awoke some hours ago with pounding headaches not unlike one I experienced on occasion during my days at the University of Vermont. It was a large room of some kind with an overhead fan churning the thick humid air overhead. There were five of us in a room meant for more, each dressed in strange pyjamas and each suffering terrible head pains. Not from restful sleep nor yet from the consumption of intoxicants nor drugs it was quickly established, but from some unexplained unconsciousness. Outside the locked room was a wall topped by barbed wire and beyond that some jungle. Where were we? What day was it?

The four others were strangers to me, three from the British Empire and one from Germany. We established that, however it had occurred, we had arrived here from different places, with Tobias Black, the artist, having somehow been transported here from London. Wherever here was, clearly with jungle outside it was unlikely to be anywhere any of us was familiar with. In addition, our possessions were missing – our clothes were neatly folded next to our beds on top of which were our passports. Otto von Gruber, the German scientist was fortunate enough to have retained his walking cane. We were not therefore in the hands of savages.

My notebook was, alas, missing, so I write notes upon the hospital charts – for we were indeed in a hospital. Each of us sported a wristband inscribed with our name and the date of admission – 28 October 1926. No-one recalled the intervening four to five weeks. We determined to leave the room if we could.

Jonah quickly disabled the lock on the door and cautiously opened it. At that very moment, a man in a doctor’s coat appeared out of thin air in the centre of the room. Jonah stepped into the corridor, our heads throbbed with new pain and we dropped into unconsciousness once more.

We came to again, lying on our beds, but not changed back into night clothes. The doctor spoke to us under a barrage of our questions. Dr Alan Kelly explained we were in Elmwood Military Hospital, on a US Naval base in Haiti! Today was 30 October 1926, therefore we had been here for 2 days, though none of us could remember. He seemed pleased we were able to recall being awake some 2 hours ago and explained that we had been lapsing in and out of unconsciousness in a strange way for the last 2 days. The medical charts confirmed this. There were no signs of medical interventions which might have explained things. We have even been eating and drinking or carrying on conversation either side of an episode of unconsciousness.

Apparently, some townsfolk in the capital Port-au-Prince found us wandering muddy and confused on the outskirts of town as if we had spent time in the jungle. We had at that time no understanding of our names or of where we were, had no possessions and seemed to be in the grip of some horror. None of this could we remember. Tobias checked his passport and like the others it was stamped with 23 October as the date of entry to Haiti.

We demanded to be allowed to leave, but the doctor said he could not authorise us to be discharged. He would need to speak to Major Lloyd Medwin. Jonah tried to leave the room and got into the corridor before we all collapsed again. Puzzled, we wondered whether moving as a group might avoid this bizarre situation – that of sever headaches causing unconsciousness seemingly when separated from the group.

The doctor was persuaded, against his better judgement, to allow us to go to the canteen. I determined to test Jonah’s theory about staying together by dawdling in the corridor. Everything seemed fine, the others were in the canteen talking with the doctor (observing the armed guards). I retreated towards the room to talk to a nurse I had spotted earlier. All I wanted to do was ask her name, but immediately I began to speak my head began to pound. I backed away and instead wrote a question doen for her. On showing this to her I lost consciousness again. Bizarre to say the least. What is going on? The others also lost consciousness at that moment.

There was a portly Haitian cleaning the room when we awoke again. Jonah tried asking her a question whereupon the colour drained from her face and she screamed, babbling in the local tongue no doubt. He tried to stop her leaving. Guards appeared and she was allowed to escape. They translated her babbling. She said ‘Baron La Croix has us marked’. I had heard of this being before – in voodoo culture he is the Loa for death also known as Baron Samedi or Baron Saturday. We are marked for death is what she meant then.

The guards left. We had been out for half an hour this time. Tobias (the English artist), inspired by recent events, started drawing. Henry Jones (the explorer from Manchester, England) and Otto were content to eat the fruit left for us. I gathered fruit in a pillowcase and obtained the mop handle, in case a quick exit was needed. Jonah, obviously a man unsuited to confinement of any kind, resolved to leave. He smashed the window with a chamberpot and started off. A few minutes later he was brought back to our room. He had succeeded in reaching the gate (round the corner of the building) before giving himself up. However, he had managed to carry on a conversation with several people and get some distance away without us falling unconscious. So perhaps our shared inability to stay awake has something to do with the doctor or perhaps only certain of us are capable of acting more or less normally? At this point we still have too many unanswered questions and little access to answers.

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Deaths Head Moths, Matchbooks and Hotels

Dear Mother,

I find myself in the unenviable position of having lost a great deal of the past month. By the time you ready this you may be reviewing our escapades thanks to our American journalists narrative but I fear that I simply most put quill to parchment in order to make some semblance of sense in these extraordinary events. Forgive my ramblings for I fear that I am not entirely compos mentis.

I am one of 5 fellows suffering from simultaneous unconscious episodes in a Naval Hospital in Haiti. We have been here for some time and have lapsed many times. I do not recall any events from the past month which as you can understand I find disturbing. Having woken up again in that Naval hospital in Haiti, an interview table was set up and the American officer in charge of our rehabilitation arrived and proceed to question us. From this we deduced that other people have been going missing, although as this is a fairly backward island, it could be supposed that the natives have been alleviating white folk of their goods/lives.

We were lent a robust staff car to take us to our last known lodgings, which still had us checked in. On our travels it was noted that we were being followed, whether by our American friends or parties unknown I cannot say.

The hotel – I use the term loosely, is a meager building having seen far better days than its current existence. We have 3 rooms, with my good friend Otto von Gruber of Germanic persuasion and the odd English gent Jonah sharing one, myself and Rupert Hayes, an American tabloid journalist, another and the eccentric English gent, Tobias Black on his own in a third. Our suitcases are present and we have discovered clothing, ammunition and guns as well.

I say “odd English gent” as Jonah has a rather an abrupt and forthright manner as regards Hospital staff and indeed humans in other roles of authority – he has yet to quarrel openly with the rest of us, however I fear it won’t be long. Whilst examining Tobias’ room – for we could not deduce rooms easily from the keys given – he ran out of the bathroom and has not been seen since. Whilst his manner is abrupt he is rather handy with improvised tools to enter otherwise barred domains and comes across as capable in a tight corner.

Its been noted that there is a set of clothing for sturdy hiking and a shotgun for which none of us can lay claim – although I have rather taken to the beasts following our last escapade. The concierge for wont of a better word also informed us that the safe contained a strong box. Tobias has examined the contents and discovered that we are looking into the disappearance of an American friend who appears to be running guns to the rebels and perchance the local militia in the guise of agricultural machinery. There is also currency present to the princely sum of 300 dollars (around £61 7s 1d at the current exchange rate of 4.85 USD to 1 GBP).

We have also discovered a matchbox with a deaths head moth inside from a local speak easy, a playing card and letter of engagement for our services to Tobias from his American friends family. It seems that the American in question has come about a small fortune via these nefarious means so it is of no surprise that the dissappearance took place in this small portion of this backward isle.

I have left out the names of places and people in case I taint their reputation before fully understanding the circumstance.

Yours truly
Henry Jones

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Day 1: Finally a Purpose, but yet more questions

Day 1: 30 October 1926 Elmwood Military Hospital, Haiti.

I pick up the tale of this bewildering and seemingly endless day with the realisation that Jonah’s breakout has made the navy uneasy – there are guards on our door. I have confirmed that, at least according to the charts kept by the medical staff here, we have all been falling unconscious at exactly the same time and for the same duration – all the charts are identical. However, I take some comfort from the fact that our bouts of incapacitation are becoming less frequent.

I consented to Herr von Gruber examining me to determine whether there was a physical cause to our group unconsciousness, but there were no signs of any physical trauma. There is also no evidence that drugs have been administered. There must therefore be a psychological reason, though the shared nature of our ‘episodes’ is strange.

Doctor Kelly looked at us strangely when Henry asked if we had been found (by locals) together – we still have no recollection of that time. His inexpert opinion is that we may have, together, witnessed some horrific act of violence. He has asked us to, in effect, try to appear sane when Major Medwin arrives. He wants us to leave Haiti as soon as possible.

Nurses arrive with some chairs and a table – we shall see the Major soon. I have requested some small items to assist in my remembering and continuing this investigation. Gratifyingly, I did not pass out this time on conversing with the nurses.

Jonah is clearly anxious, he attempts to leave via the window, but we convince him to stay, though he appears to need a weapon to provide him comfort (a clipboard clip) – is he dangerous?
He overhears Doctor Kelly trying to convince someone in the corridor (Major Medwin) not to see us. This is odd, does he want us to leave or not?

Major Lloyd Medwin arrives and begins to interrogate us with the customary arrogance of a short military man with red hair. His clerk records the conversation, to our disquiet. The Major demands to know what we last remember; for his records I said I last remembered getting off a bus in Boston a month ago, Otto just said he was getting ready for bed, but not in Haiti, the others stay silent.

Major Medwin informs us there have been reports of foreigners going missing a few days ago – could these refer to us, or part of our group? A newspaper provided by one of the kind nurses on our way out later confirmed these reports.

He demanded to know why we were Haiti and what we were going to do. We countered with our own questions. The navy has clearly been investigating our situation – we now understand we were staying in the Hotel Olafsson in Port-au-Prince, we arrived by boat and we checked in together (but unsure if there were others). But nobody knows why we are here.

Tobias asks Major Medwin if he may telegraph his friend in New York who may know why we are here, since he had been intending to visit him. There is no telephone out of Haiti, unfortunately. His friend is one Jack Sterling (a wealthy businessman). Tobias’ passport indicates he did in fact visit New York in the last month. None of us recognise the name.

Major Medwin agrees to let us go as long as we inform him as soon as we know anything as to our visit to Haiti. He kindly arranged a jeep for us and we now have a map of the island. He has warned us to be careful in the city – Henry had asked if we are welcome – as some of the populace do not welcome white people (Haiti being under American occupation for the last 7-8 years).

Tobias drives skilfully, but perhaps a little too enthusiastically, back to Port-au-Prince. We appear to be followed by another vehicle from the military complex. Major Medwin clearly is interested in what we are here for. During the journey I find a newspaper article from the Tuesday 28th edition of the Haiti Progres about the disappearance of foreigners, screams and blood. We are disturbed by the thought that this could refer to us.

On arrival in the city we note there seem to be preparations ongoing for a festival – crucifixes, flowers and dead chickens. This would be the Fete Gede, a voodoo festival of the dead due to take place at the weekend (1 and 2 November). I keep having to remind myself that it is Thursday, today.

We find the address for our hotel and park up outside. A few of the locals give curious, but not hostile looks. Anticipating answers, we enter the Hotel Olafsson.

Day 1: 30 October 1926 Hotel Olafsson, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The hotel is new, perhaps two or three years old, and styled to attract foreigners such as us, no doubt. There is a sign in Creole over the desk, but I do not know what it says. An elderly black man sits behind the reception desk. He gives us a curious look at our attempts to explain that we have lost our memories. He re-introduces himself as Nathaniel and attempts to reply to the barrage of questions we fire at him. He explains that we have not been back here for a few days.

There is initial confusion, possibly caused by the language barrier or cultural differences, where we mistakenly understand that a room has been paid for by Otto (in fact we have three rooms paid for by Tobias, more on that later). Our belongings are either in the room or in the safety deposit box. It is quite large and rattles in an interesting way as Nathaniel carries it into a back room. Once alone we open the box.

Contents of the safety deposit box:
10 revolvers (5 of 38 Automatic Pistol and 5 of .45 revolver) none of which we remember as being ours.
$300 (not a sum we were expecting to find as an accumulation of our previous funds)
A List of Names
A map of Port-au-Prince to go with our Map of Haiti
Open return boat tickets on the Louisa Queen to New York
A Letter from Shaw Investigations*
A Sterling Industries report@

*Shaw Investigations is a private investigation firm based in New York.
@Sterling Industries is the corporation owned by Jack Sterling, Tobias’ friend.

Our Purpose has been revealed! On perusing the letter from Shaw investigations, which is addressed to Tobias Black, it appears that we have been retained by them to assist Tobias in locating one Jack Sterling who is believed to have gone missing in Haiti. The Reader may note on inspection of the letter that it refers to one Rupert Haze. This refers to my good self regardless of the inaccurate portrayal of my name in that letter and the false assertion that I have experience of the criminal underworld. But I digress. Now we had a purpose, the finding of Tobias’ friend. However, on examining the report on Sterling Industries, the matter became more complex and potentially more dangerous.

The report claims, such claims as yet to be substantiated or verified by us, that Sterling Industries may be supplying weapons to the Haitian rebels (the company already being known to supply weapons to the US military). This puts us potentially in the middle of a potential uprising, notwithstanding the illegality of the smuggling of weapons. By helping Jack Sterling we may be aiding a terrorist and become wanted criminals ourselves. But this is all supposition, and assumes the worst about a man most of us have yet to find let alone meet. I reveal these things merely to provide context to our investigation and not to slander a well respected businessman.

We retrieve all the items and are shown to our rooms. I will briefly set out what we found there in the order we found it as this aids my memory and even the tiniest detail may be of significance later, when hopefully our memories return fully.

Otto and Jonah’s room
In Otto’s suitcase, Otto discovered that his precious Luger pistol was missing. There was ammunition for the guns previously discovered in the safety deposit box, and some shotgun shells. There was also hiking boots, a rucksack and flashlight, not Otto’s as far as we can tell. Lastly, a matchbox from a speak easy ‘The Sugar Cane’ in New York, proof at least one of us had been there. The matchbox contained a large dead moth with a skull pattern on the back. This is known as a death’s head moth. Very curious.

Jonah’s suitcase contained the disassembled parts of a shotgun.

Tobias’s room
Tobias had a single room. It was extremely, suspiciously tidy. So was Tobias’ suitcase. In it we found a shipping manifest from the Sterling factory (the Motthaven, Bronx) to Labaddie Imports and Exports (Port-au-Prince) for agricultural machinery. Sterling Industries do not manufacture farm machinery. Immediately we are suspicious that this could be a cover for weapons shipments. But the tidy nature of the suitcase may mean it was planted here.

Jonah had gone to check the bathroom while the rest of us were checking out the suitcases. He came out rather abruptly and declared he needed a drink. He left immediately to find a bar.

Henry and Rupert’s room

We did not find anything out of the ordinary in this room or in our suitcase which thankfully contained our notes. However, I discovered with alarm that someone had removed several pages from my precious notebook, in fact all those pertaining to the period of my missing memories.

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Day 1: Bleeding passports and blank faces

Day 1: 30 October 1926 Hotel Olafsson, Port-au-Prince Haiti

After the discoveries of the day, we had much to consider. The evening was drawing on and we still had many questions. Before retiring for the night, Tobias and Henry decided to take some air (Jonah still being, presumably, at a bar); Tobias in particular to determine whether we were still being followed. Otto and I decided to do further investigation at the Hotel.

Otto examined the pistols from the safety deposit box. I wanted to determine whether they had been fired before – i.e. were they new (and perhaps evidence of a weapons shipment) or used. With his expert knowledge of handguns, he determined that they were in fact very new. He went downstairs to try to get more information out of Nathaniel. I do not believe he was very successful. I tried in vain to use my hospital charts to predict when our next period of unconsciousness might occur. I had not finished my assessment before falling asleep or into unconsciousness because suddenly it was morning and I was lying in bed, not sitting at the desk as I remembered. Unfortunately, I could find no discernable pattern to the bouts of unconsciousness so there must be some other reason for them to occur.

Day 2: 31 October 1926 Hotel Olafsson, Port-au-Prince Haiti

Jonah woke us and called us together. Something had apparently happened to him last night (to Tobias too) when out and he needed to discuss it. After leaving the bar, he went for a walk, in a different direction to Tobias, it seems. Both experienced disturbing hallucinations, visions or otherworldly experiences which I shall describe here as related to us.

Jonah’s experiences

Firstly, Jonah explained that he had left the hotel abruptly the previous evening after having investigated Tobias’ bathroom. He says that he opened the vanity cupboard, checked inside and when he closed the door, a tarot card was wedged in the mirror, which was previously just a normal mirror. That had unnerved him slightly. He showed us the card. It was number XIII Death. Disquieting.

Jonah left the bar after a couple of drinks to settle his nerves. Not long after he had started walking he noticed a group of 5 Haitians behind him. His surroundings were suddenly different and the hotel was not in the direction it should have been. He noticed blood on his clothing and found that his passport was bleeding. Yes, Reader, you did read that correctly, there was blood pouring from his passport. He also passed a window and on looking into it he had no reflection other than a dark silhouette. He heard dogs barking. Then he fell unconscious and woke up the next morning in bed.

Tobias’ experience

Tobias saw the military car opposite the hotel, but it was empty. On his walk he had a similar experience, except that when he looked in a shop window, the reflection was of a group of 5 Haitians who were not actually there. He said the street also changed when he turned a corner. He noticed blood on his trousers and found that his passport was bleeding too, except when he examined his photograph it was just a dark silhouette. He also recalled the barking of dogs. Then he fell unconscious and woke up the next morning in bed.

There was no physical evidence of their excursions, no blood in their passports or on their clothes.

At these revelations we obviously had some discussion over the cause. Henry, Otto and I had also become unconscious at presumably the same time. Though Henry was on the porch and thus outside the hotel, he had not had any visions, neither had Otto nor I. Drugs, hypnosis, voodoo and magic are all possibilities. We needed verification of what had happened.

Otto went down to reception to talk to Nathaniel, who had left for the day. The new receptionist, Joseph, reluctantly agreed to contact Nathaniel for Otto to ask some urgent questions. Otto had been conversing with Nathaniel when he lost consciousness. Nathaniel, however, stated that all he remembered was having a discussion with Otto, then Otto returning to his room of his own accord, not Otto collapsing. When interrogated some more, Nathaniel could not confirm Tobias, Henry and Jonah returning to the hotel, though there is a side door. Perhaps while our conscious minds slept our bodies continued to act normally without our control or knowledge. This is a rather disturbing thought.

We determined that we should find a witchdoctor to explain these mystical goings on. On the list of names from the safety deposit box was the name of a tarot reader, which would be a good place to start. We set out for Rue Macajoux to find Marie Jerome.

Day 2: 31 October 1926 A bakery, Rue Macajoux, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

We parked in Rue Macajoux. Jonah spotted the military car parked opposite us and got out to talk to the men inside. They would not admit to following us, and did not confirm seeing Jonah leave the hotel. They admitted they may not have been in the car all evening, however. Jonah asked them pointedly to keep better notes of our movements (selfishly to ensure we could track what we were actually doing), but they did not seem impressed with the request.

I purchased a newspaper, but there was no further news of the missing foreigners. Henry was becoming concerned over his lapses into unconsciousness and has started making his mark in various ways (to trace his steps later). I have done so, but am not convinced it will work.

At the back of a bakery we met Marie Jerome, the tarot reader. Her room was full of parrots and candles, with a large pentagram inscribed on her desk. The woman herself is a young and well-proportioned native. She recognised us – we had been here a few days ago apparently, asking about voodoo. She referred us to a Doctor Bruce Northeast (another name on that list) who is writing a paper on voodoo practices. Jonah showed her his death card and she was obviously shocked. It is not one from a traditional deck and clearly disturbed her, giving her ‘bad feelings’. She asked us if we wanted a reading done, we had refused previously. I agreed to have a reading done. It should hopefully shed light into my missing memories.

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Day 2: A Tarot reading

Day 2: 31 October 1926 A bakery, Rue Macajoux, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

I will detail the card and interpretation in the order given by Marie Jerome. I have paraphrased her words as plainly as possible.

  • XIII Death – The first card represents the Past, where I have come from, what I have learned/experienced. It represents a lack of hope, coming from an impasse, lost minds, not knowing what to do. Something important has been lost, but I have learned how to cope with it. The past is the key to success. I can use it to reclaim the past.
  • XV The Devil – The second card represents the Present, physically and the state of mind. This card appearing is apparently a good sign as it means I am gaining clarity and insight. My intellect wants to dominate my intuition and feelings. This intellect gives me power (the energy of many people). If I let intuition and feelings get stronger this trusted power may be lost.
  • XII The Hanged Man – The third card represents the Future, where I will find myself. I will need to make an important decision with profound consequences. I must beware selfishness and egotism, avoid false prophets and let go of fears. I will be required to make some sacrifice of self for the greater good. I am seeking someone. I may have to give up this search or let him go to succeed.
  • IX of Swords – The fourth card represents the Obstacle. To overcome the obstacle I will suffer loss and treachery. I will deceive myself somehow.
  • X of Swords – The final card represents the Outcome. If I overcome the obstacle I will receive this outcome. It will involve pain and anguish, a low point, but the worst has passed. I can accomplish great good.

It was unclear whether this reading was for the group or myself as an individual, however Marie Jerome refused to do another reading. We left to find Doctor Bruce Northeast.

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Day 2: Darker things discovered

Day 2: Friday October 31st 1926, a bar, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Before we went to Doctor Northeast’s house, Jonah insisted we find the bar from the previous evening, to confirm whether he had in fact left the hotel as he remembered. The bar is located almost opposite our hotel. The barman’s grasp of English was pretty much non-existent. In the end, Jonah was forced to stand in the street and shout for help. A kind middle-aged woman agreed, warily, to translate. It turns out that the barman did indeed remember Jonah from the previous evening, Jonah consumed several whiskeys over 20 minutes before leaving the bar. THis was the first time Jonah had been in to that bar. This then proves that not all of our memory of yesterday evening is false. We continued on to the outskirts of town where Dr Northeast’s house is located.

Day 2: Friday October 31st 1926, Dr Bruce Northeast’s house, outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Dr Northeast’s property stands alone at the side of the road and backs onto the Haitian jungle. We noted the dead black rooster over the verandah (a voodoo offering to Baron Samedi), which had clearly been hanging for a couple of days. Just visible behind it was carved into the side of the house a stylised human skull with three eyes. I noted this was similar to the tarot card Jonah had found. I took a rubbing of it for future reference.

On approaching the house, we noticed that the door had obviously been forced open, the lock smashed. There were multiple dried footprints going to and from the door. Jonah immediately took point, gun out ready, and warily entered the front door, closely followed by Otto and Tobias. Henry too the right side of the house, I the left. My military reflexes have obviously faded as I did not draw my gun nor approach the potentially dangerous location with the wariness I should have displayed. Henry got out the re-constructed shotgun in a purposeful manner.

The living room
Jonah, Otto and Tobias discovered that the living room had been trashed, quite thoroughly and purposefully. In Jonah’s opinion this had been done by several people (which is corroborated by the number of footprints) with deliberate purpose, yet in a chaotic matter. Furniture, books and clothing were all torn and damaged. There was no sign of Dr Northeast. The three headed cautiously for the only exit – a door at the back of the room.

Meanwhile I on the left and Henry on the right discovered side windows looking in onto the same scene. We continued towards the back of the house. I continued round the back and found a window looking onto a bathroom, also destroyed. Henry found another window near the back of the house looking in onto a bedroom, just as the other three entered through the interior door.

The bedroom

The bedroom was also trashed. The bed was standing upright against the wall. There was a horrendous stench, recognisable as decay. All eyes turned to the bed. Otto calmly hooked his cane over the edge and pulled it back down. There was a body, hacked to pieces, putrefying in the humid air. A white male. Presumably the good doctor himself.

None of the others had been prepared for this terrible sight or smell, yet all seemed to take it in their stride remarkably well. I was fore-warned not to enter the bedroom, but I insisted, for the Reader would not expect a reporter of good character to avoid evidence, however gruesome it might be. Even fore-warned it was still a shock to see the terrible extent of the mutilation, as if hacked by many hands. However, while I cannot recall ever seeing such a sight before, it did not turn my stomach nor distress me terribly (though I try not to think about it, of course). My mind must be adept at blocking out the worst horrors, but this leaves me to wonder what have I seen to cause my memory loss?

Henry, Tobias and Otto decide to track the footprints, Jonah began searching the bedroom, starting with the grisly task of the body itself, and I began to look for clues in the living room. Henry voiced the disturbing possibility that the attackers could have been us (for which we can no longer remember) as they discovered there were 5 sets of footprints. However, he calmed our fears on further investigation that none of the footprints matched his own. Additionally, Otto’s unique gait (due to a wound suffered in the Great War) would have been obvious, but was not present. The tracks were seen to lead into the jungle.

While searching the living room, I heard a gun shot from the bedroom. I called out to Jonah and went to see if he was injured. It transpires that when examining the body, a fearsomely large spider (a tarantula I am informed) crawled towards him, and fearing being bitten, he shot it with his pistol, most expertly it transpires.

We decided to follow the tracks into the forest, but before we did that we all turned to searching the house, to discover any clues as to what had happened here, and when. It took us a good two hours of searching through the tattered remains of the doctor’s possessions, but we eventually turned up some more information, disturbing though it was.

It was Tobias that found Dr Northeast’s journal, buried untroubled under some clothes. The last entry was Monday 27th October 1926. Reading this aloud, we discovered that we had already met with Dr Northeast (the previous day, Sunday) to discuss our investigation. We had discovered that Jack sterling had been kidnapped and taken to The Star Pools to be a victim in a ritual of blood sacrifice. It appears Dr Northeast subsequently visited this area (previously believed to be a myth) and saw Jack Sterling. According to his journal something had been done to Mr Sterling, and he might be killed in a ceremony occurring during the Fete Gede.

This caused us consternation because we may only have 24 to 48 hours to find and rescue Mr Sterling, and in doing so we might encounter dangerous people and creatures alluded to in the doctor’s journal. There is something called the Floating Horror Cult we must also be wary of. Dr Northeast alludes to the Floating Horror being some sort of creature; perhaps this is a Loa or demon. The journal also referenced a tale in Book: The Masked Messenger of the Ashanti Warrior and the Sharp Stone.

This book I had discovered along with two others, Ghosts of the Living and Created World of the Insane Mind, which I have yet to examine. I did read out the passage mentioned in The Masked Messenger, but I do not yet fully grasp its meaning.

While reading from this book, I glanced up at my audience and back down again to the book to find another tarot card had appeared out of thin air. Now I know what Jonah felt yesterday. This card was Tarot Card: The Devil, another unusual illustration I expect as it is different to that presented to me by Marie Jerome. I also note with consternation that this is the second card to have appeared and it matches the second card in the tarot reading. I expect that another card will appear before long (admittedly I am hoping to someone other than I) and that it will be The Hanged Man. I fervently hope this is not an indication that time is ticking away and that should the last card be revealed before we complete our mission there will be dire consequences.

There are further journal articles to be read, in addition to those tomes just mentioned. We also still intend to follow the tracks of the 5 murderers (as we all believe them to be).

It occurs to me, writing this, that the number five keeps cropping up. I do not believe coincidences. There were 5 mysterious Haitians in Jonah and Tobias’ visions, five tarot cards in the reading, five sets of footprints (though they could be from the same Haitians) and, lastly, five of us. The number may be significant. Marie Jerome said I should use my intellectual power to succeed, thus I shall attempt to puzzle out this riddle with the aid of the not inconsiderable intellect of my companions.

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Day 2: Witch's brew and a sharp stone

Day 2: Friday 31st October 1926, Dr Northeast’s house, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Having spent two hours searching for clues at the murdered doctor’s house, we decided that it was time to move on. Not even Henry, who had successfully deduced the nature of the tracks on the front porch, was able to follow them into the jungle, meaning that going after the mysterious band of murderers was not an option.

We decided to repair to the library for further research, after getting some lunch. On getting into the car we noticed that a little aways down the road were our familiar tails. They had probably been far enough away not to have heard Jonah’s gunshot earlier, which is fortunate else we may not have been able to discover the journal nor the other books. Jonah decides that the authorities should be made aware of the murder and approaches their car.

It must be a British peculiarity to refer to a terrible murder as ’he’s not well’ though Jonah did then further explain that Dr Northeast had been ‘sliced to death’. He quickly explained to the astonished soldier what we believe took place and agreed to remain at the scene whilst the other one contacted Major Medwin. The rest of us were allowed to leave, informing the soldiers that we were going to lunch.

Tobias drove us back to the centre of Port-au-Prince, however after five minutes we all began to feel unwell (not, I hasten to add, as a result of his driving). There was a brief argument concerning what would happen next. While we would ‘fall unconscious’ (due to our increasing distance from one of the five of us, Jonah) my guess was that our bodies would continue to operate as if we were conscious and we would revive later, perhaps at the Hotel Olafsson or at a cafe, unharmed. Henry was not convinced and resolved to exit the vehicle whilst it was moving, though Tobias did slow down a little. Then we passed out.

We came round sitting in chairs in an unfamiliar office. Someone was talking about us and the fact that we should be monitored more closely. Major Medwin and Dr Kelly were in an office. It turned out to be 2 and a half hours later, time we could not afford to lose. We had apparently all been found unconscious in a car parked on the street (our bodies must have stopped the car for us). Interestingly, we appeared to actually have become unconscious at this time, not just forgotten what had happened.

Jonah stated that he had not been in the car, so where was he found? Major Medwin refused to provide a clear answer. Jonah’s reaction was to pull out his gun and aim at major Medwin. This was perhaps an incautious move.

Major Medwin, understandably, called the guards when Jonah refused to back down. Aside to Dr Kelly he said that it was not going to work, that we were too unstable. What did that mean? Have they been experimenting on us? Dr Kelly was quick to refute that suggestion. Guards arrived. We tried to reason with Jonah, to explain that being detained would e detrimental to our rescue efforts. Jonah backed away and lowered his weapon, but did not surrender or holster it.

Major Medwin was angry. He had every right and reason to detain us all now. We had to appease him by providing some sort of explanation for our behaviour. Jonah said that he had been standing with one of the guards outside a friend’s house when he fell unconscious; the guard could verify that he was there. We admitted that it was Dr Northeast’s house. On relaying this piece of information, Major Medwin said that yes, that was where Jonah had been found. We said that we were friends with Dr Northeast, but could not remember what had happened on our previous visit.

Major Medwin still wanted to arrest us over the murder of Dr Northeast. We explained that he had been dead for some days when we had turned up at his house. He did seem dubious at our innocence seeing as we could not remember the last few days. However, on our explanation of what we found he provided a clue that Dr Northeast could have been murdered by rebels. We should seek out Sebastian Senegal, the leader of the rebels. If we do this he is prepared to let us go, provided we report back to him as soon as we are aware of Senegal’s location.

Tobias accused Major Medwin of using us to get to Senegal. Senegal may be involved in the disappearance of Jack Sterling. Major Medwin claims to have no real interest in Jack Sterling.

Once we are released, we discover that we have been in the American Embassy. Our car is outside and so is another with different guards in it. Jonah wanders over to inform them that we are repairing to the library. He says they are grumpy. With time running out we cannot stop for lunch, therefore grab something simple and set out for the library. We cannot afford to risk losing consciousness again, therefore as a group we must stay together, though this negatively impacts on the amount of ground we can cover.

Day 2 Friday 31st October 1926, the library, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

We decided to divide up the areas of research. Over the next few hours (even past closing time – Jonah convinced the librarian to remain behind for an hour) Tobias reads the rest of Dr Northeast’s journal, Otto researches the Star Pools, Henry researches local mythos, Jonah the Cult of the Floating Horror and I examine the other books from Dr Northeast’s house.

Henry finds nothing of specific relevance and I discover only that they are reference books on psychology. Otto finds no mention of the Star Pools at all and begins researching the Cult of the Floating Horror too. I looked for old maps, geographical in nature, depicting the Star Pools, but find nothing. Otto trawled through the old newspapers, searching for information on the Cacos rebels and Senegal (their leader). Senegal is not mentioned, but there are reports of periodic uprisings by those rebels. Whether or not he is connected to the Cult of the Floating Horror, Senegal could well use any chaos around the ritual and Fete Gede to stage another uprising. They will be well armed, considering the guns we have in our possession most likely come from a recent shipment.

Jonah discovers a book from 1924 by Nigel Blackwell called Africa’s Dark Secrets. This book covers three main cults – the Bloody Tongue, The Screaming Crawler and the Cult of the floating Horror in Nigeria. There is one particular passage, which resonated strongly with us, referring to a ritual, which I am convinced is what the Haitian cult is about to attempt during the Fete Gede. The second unusual tarot card also sprang to mind – the illustration being of a person with gouged flesh as mentioned in this passage.

In the margin next to the passage, someone had written notes. Jonah guessed that it was my writing and sure enough on examination it appears that he is correct, though I cannot remember coming here before or writing those words. My words indicate that this ritual is as described by Dr Northeast to us and also mentions Sebastian Senegal.

Jonah also discovered a third unusual tarot card within the pages of this book. It was, as I expected, card number XII The Hanged Man. The illustration depicts something not quite human in front of jungle and starry pools. If I remember the tarot reading correctly, this card represents the future. Perhaps this is the Floating Horror?

Tobias is disturbed by what he reads in Dr Northeast’s journal. In one entry, dated Friday 24th October, Dr Northeast says that he is convinced there is more to the Cult of the Floating Horror than he had suspect (it appears he had been researching this cult too). He also appears to know where the Star Pools are. The Floating Horror cult is a fringe branch of voodoo culture who believe in a loa called the Floating Horror. A special individual is prepared in advance to be possessed by the loa. This clearly upset Tobias because Dr Northeast’s last entry had mentioned he had seen something terrible already done to Jack Stirling – we believe Jack is to be that ‘sacrifice’.

Dr Northeast had been consulting with a [[:Madame Josephine]] on voodoo culture and had attempted to get more information on the cult from her, but she had refused his requests. Her address is written in the journal – it is our next port of call.

Day 2: Friday 31st October 1926 – a laundrette, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Mme Josephine’s address appeared to be a laundrette. It was about six-thirty and therefore closed, however we did attract the attention of a woman at the back. She looked hesitant when we asked for Mme Josephine. We said that we had some urgent news about Dr Northeast. Five minutes later she returned with a very large man (perhaps as protection?) and conducts us to the back room.

The back room is filled with parrots, snake vertebrae, serpent motifs and swirl designs. An old woman, quite large in build with a parrot on her shoulder welcomes us with a question. Did we bring what she wanted? It is still strange and disturbing to be welcomed back to places we have no memory of.

The object she asked us to bring was a death’s head moth. If the Reader would care to recall, we found such in a matchbox in Otto’s suitcase only yesterday (though weeks seem to have passed since then). What did she need this for? It appears she had agreed to make a mixture to drink to protect against the Lurker in the Star Pools (not the Floating Horror). It was clear from our bewildered faces that she would have to explain some things (again) and ordered the big man (Jim) to make coffee, though Tobias opted for rum.

It transpires that we had approached her with Bruce Northeast about the Cult of the Floating Horror. We were determined to destroy it, we had said. This was probably why she had agreed to help us. We would destroy the cult and King Kaliko (leader of the Bruquoil otherwise known as the cult of the Floating Horror). The Floating Horror is also known as the Crawling Chaos of 1,000 faces. It is a god. While we were absorbing this strange news Jonah asked what the most recent tarot card we had found depicted – Mme Josephine said it could be one of the many faces.

The Cult has been slowly building in power. She has heard rumours of a ceremony to coincide with the Fete Gede on Saturday or Sunday night. She did not know when this may commence, unfortunately. The rumours are that Haiti will be cleansed by what is to be summoned. I get the strong impression that this would not be a good fate for Haiti.

We had come to her (previously) saying that our friend (Jack Sterling) had been abducted by the Cult and that we wanted to stop the ceremony. She asked us to find the death’s head moth so that she could make a potion to get past the Lurker.

The Lurker is the guardian of the Star Pools. It is very powerful and cannot be destroyed by the hand of man. We would need assistance. She brought out a wooden box carved with a symbol composed of a circle, five-pointed star and flame. Inside was a dark, sharp-looking stone with hints of green. This must be an artefact of some sort.

Otto and Henry surprised Mme Josephine by saying they had seen a similar object before. In their experience, the other stone had been the key to a gate for Nyrathlotep. Mme Josephine said that that name was one of the names for the Crawling Chaos. I am not certain whether Henry and Otto’s earlier experience of this god will be of benefit. Apparently, Henry and Otto are all that remain of their original group who met Nyrathlotep. Our rescue attempt now is fraught with more than just physical danger but also danger to the mind and soul as well, for we will be facing the same god, which slew Henry and Otto’s companions.

The sharp-looking stone is The Sharp Stone, a unique artefact that appears by chance to be in Haiti where it is needed. Mme Josephine explains that someone must cut themselves with the stone to trick The Lurker. The potion must be drunk before using the stone; as I understand it the potion will lessen the effects of the Stone so that it does not have too adverse affect on the wielder. Tobias volunteers immediately.

The Reader may by now be skeptical at these mentions of gods, spirits and possible magical artefacts, though I would re-assure the Reader that my words are not fanciful nor false. Madame Josephine concocted the potion by grinding up the dead moth, a live scorpion and various powders and ungents. The resulting viscous black fluid looked extremely unappetising, but Tobias drank it all (followed by rum). It apparently tasted vile, unsurprisingly.

Carefully picking up The Sharp Stone, he scored a deep cut in his arm. He reported an immediate sense of clarity and strength of mind. Without any other explanation I would conclude this to be an effect of either the potion itself or some beneficial ‘magical’ property of the Stone.

We cannot defeat The Lurker, therefore it must be tricked. Tobias now has the means to trick the Lurker and apparently we will be safe to go with him. He needs to keep the Sharp Stone on him. In fact Tobias said that he was reluctant to part with the Stone.

We need to get to the Star Pools without delay for we do not know when the ritual is due to start. Dr Northeast knew where they were, but he is dead. Mme Josephine does not know where they are, but suggests that Sebastian Senegal does. She directs us to a warehouse on the docks from which he is purported to operate. We must approach him carefully for we do not know his relationship with the Cult of the Floating Horror (nor to the point with Americans and their allies).

We resolve to go first to Labaddie Imports and Exports to determine whether we can leverage any meeting with Senegal by way of a weapons shipment.

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Day 2: Arms dealing

Day 2: Friday 31st October 1926, a street, Port-au Prince, Haiti

On leaving the laundrette we noted that the Fete Gede preparations now seemed to be complete. In a few hours the festival would begin, and perhaps the terrible ceremony we intended to disrupt. We hurried to the docks, feeling time slipping inexorably away from us. Unless we could convince Sebastian Senegal to tell us where the Star Pools were our only alternative to save Jack Sterling would be to wander aimlessly in the hills east of Port-au-Prince hoping that luck with point us there. I would not trust a man’s life to luck, even if I believed in it, when strange spirits and magic could twist that luck to misfortune on this island.

We could not risk our ill-tempered shadows discovering our meeting with Senegal. They would likely rush in guns blazing to arrest him, then we would never find the information we needed to save Jack Sterling’s life. It bothers me that I might be consorting with an enemy of my country, but there could be time later, when the immediate danger had passed, to perhaps assuage my conscience at duping Major Medwin and my countrymen. I have said nothing of this to my companions, for it should not be a distraction to our current task, and in any case they have different loyalties, not being sons of America such as I. How I will deal with this later I can not yet determine. My mind is in some turmoil still from the events of the last two days and this night is not yet over.

We parked a few streets away. In view of those shadows we entered a dockside bar. It was an interesting establishment, full of native dock workers who gave us suspicious looks. It was not a comfortable place to be. We did not linger for a drink, but thankfully exited the dingy place and found ourselves in a back alley. There were 3 dock workers outside, all looking at us suspiciously. We ignored them and headed towards Labaddie Imports and Exports via streets that would not be seen by our tails.

There was a group of five local children playing in the mud of the street. They were of various ages, the oldest being perhaps 12 years old. Jonah asked them if they wanted to earn a little money. Surprisingly, the youngest seemed the only one able (or wiling) to understand him. Jonah asked them to point out a different direction to anyone asking for us. We would depart in the opposite direction. The transaction was swift; perhaps the bribe was useless for the children quickly whispered amongst themselves. I was concerned they might point us out to some local ruffians who might assault us.

The ground was very muddy and I was concerned also that we would leave tracks. Henry and I set out in different directions to lay false trails while the others proceeded towards the warehouse. The children watched us split up. When Henry and I arrived back at our starting point, Henry spotted the youngest child squatting over the tracks that Jonah, Otto and Tobias had made. He approached to see what the girl was doing. She seemed to be marking them in some way. I was not as quiet as Henry, unfortunately, and when she heard my footsteps she immediately fled.

We examined her handiwork and saw that, curiously, she had been pushing nails into certain footprints. Henry worked out that specifically Otto’s prints were being tampered with, but we had no idea why. In any case, I removed the nails and made them into an arrow, pointing in a different direction, though this was probably a futile gesture at misdirection. Henry’s brainwave was to use one of the ubiquitous nets to drag over our trail. This indiscriminately obliterated the tracks at our starting point, though it was in itself a fairly obvious trail so we reluctantly gave up on that idea as we caught up to the others. One of them identified the child’s strange actions as warding off evil spirits, but we were all mystified as to why Otto should be considered an evil spirit.

It was now approximately 8:30pm. Before us was the dockside. Various cargo ships were tied up and there were containers and nets strewn everywhere. In front of us was a simple warehouse with a large front door and smaller side door. It was dark. We had reached our destination.

Day 2: Friday 31st October 1926 Labaddie Imports and Exports warehouse, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

It would be too obvious to enter by the front door, so Jonah set about unlocking the side door. He stepped back and Tobias opened the door to the office of the warehouse. It was not unoccupied. A large black man was sitting behind a desk and he spoke at us in the local dialect in alarm or anger. His hand moved to his side and Jonah guessed that he might be about to pull out a gun, so swiftly he brought his own gun up and shouted to the man to freeze. Beside me Henry was unlimbering his shotgun. The sight of impending death from two strangers caused the man to reconsider his strategy. He put up his hands, repeating a foreign phrase over and over again. Henry deduced that he was asking us not to shoot him.

I relieved the man of his weapons, a crowbar and a large knife (not a gun). We crowded into the little office and decided that we needed to tie him up so Tobias went out to get a net. As soon as Tobias had opened the door, the big man sprinted forward, trying to escape. Jonah tried to subdue him, but he kept going. I was behind the man and only able to give him a glancing blow to the head, and he still kept going. Tobias heard the commotion and promptly slammed the door in his face, but the big man bulled his way out of that as well. Henry finally subdued the man with the butt of his shotgun. We did not want to hurt him or let him die, for we only did this out of necessity, so once he was tied up, Jonah bandaged his head wound.

Once all was quiet, we began our search for the weapons we needed to bargain with Senegal. I found a copy of the shipping manifest (for farm machinery dated October 20th) in the records on his desk – this matched the one we had found in Tobias’ suitcase. There was a bay reference number on it. I continued to search through the documents for any other evidence of shipments by Sterling Industries while the others tried to locate the shipment. I had in mind that once we had successfully retrieved Jack Sterling from his predicament, there would still be the matter of illegal arms trading to sort out.

Though there was a reference number, the warehouse was disorganised and it took a while for them to discover the sixty crates on the manifest. Otto made judicious use of the pry bar on several crates. Each crate contained 10 (new) .306 bolt action rifles and ammunition. The rumours were true then that Jack Sterling was illegally supplying weapons to the rebels in Haiti. There were some 600 rifles here, enough for a small army. A very serious problem to be solved later.

Otto was just closing up a crate when another unusual tarot card appeared out of thin air. It was the Ten of Swords. Otto was a bit shaken (as I was when the second card appeared to me out of nowhere).

I am concerned because the order of cards had been broken. If the Reader would care to remember, the tarot reading of Marie Jerome had the 10 of Swords card as the final (fifth) card. Here it was as the fourth unusual card to appear. I am convinced that this change of order is significant, but cannot fathom why and to what consequence. Where is the nine of swords card? In the tarot reading this had represented the obstacle. If the fourth card represents the obstacle, then I cannot determine what that might be for the illustration on the card seems to be of a dead tree with tentacles. I wish I knew the meaning of these cards as understanding them might help us in our attempt to rescue Jack Sterling. Something supernatural is occurring for which we are ill-prepared.

I will continue our tale. We discussed how best to approach Senegal, a potentially dangerous man in charge of rebel fighters. Should we go in seeking news of Jack Sterling and use the rifles as a bargaining chip, or go straight in with the offer of weapons. Jonah’s plan won out for he said he had experience of such people (I can well imagine that he has) and only a direct approach would work. We took three rifles wrapped in canvas.

We tidied up, hiding the evidence of our visit, except for the unconscious man whom we left tied up in the office. I did take the crowbar and knife however. I took the man’s keys and we locked the side door. AS we were leaving sharp-eyed Jonah spotted one of the soldiers (Mr Grumpy) at the end of the alleyway we had previously vacated. He appeared to be searching of us. We quickly hid behind the warehouse and, because we were on the water’s edge, were forced to wait for him to give up and leave, wasting another fifteen minutes. We could now proceed on foot to Senegal’s warehouse, which would take about one and a half hours but avoid detection, or save time and retrieve our vehicle, but this would mean getting past the soldiers again. We decided speed, deception and minor terrorism would be the best solution.

Back in the bar, one of the soldiers (not Mr Grumpy) was sitting at the bar, probably uncomfortably. We moved pas him, Jonah even said hello, and went out into the street. While Jonah engaged him in conversation (for he of course followed us), Tobias, Henry and I went to our car to hide the rifles. The other soldier was not in the car, but came down the street as Jonah was talking. He was buying time for our German friend to sabotage the car. Otto was not particularly subtle about his movements, but the soldiers did not see him place the nails (we had re-acquired from the muddy alleyway) in front of the tyres and a stone in the exhaust pipe.

As Tobias sped away, the soldiers attempted to follow. Otto’s sabotage had been successful for there was a loud bang and the car lurched forward and then stopped. We had escaped our shadows and were free to head towards Senegal’s warehouse.

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Day 2: Fraud and deception

Day 2: Friday 31st October 1926, a dilapidated-looking warehouse on the outskirts of the docks, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Senegal’s warehouse from the outside appeared to be in poor repair, but this was probably a facade. There were around ten burly looking men milling around this portion of the warehouse, and we suspected there would be more at the back and inside. As we approached with our bundle of merchandise three or four of them came towards us. They tried to warn us off in Creole, I suspect. None of them spoke English, Jonah was leading our charade and resorted to mentioning ‘business’ and ‘Senegal’ several times with various hand gestures. After about 10 minutes of trying to make ourselves understood, one of them motions us to follow them. At the door to the warehouse, Jonah reveals a portion of the concealed rifles. Some men come out with rifles on their shoulders (.45 martini henry rifles). Then the rifles are pointed at us and we are ‘invited’ inside.

The warehouse is about three or four times as large as Labaddie Imports’. There are about twenty armed men inside, all armed with used or old rifles. There are two offices on the left, a large side room on the right and another small room on the right. There are weapons and maps strewn around and loose floorboards hinting at rooms or passages beneath the warehouse. Very obviously to me our lives are now in their hands. We know about their secret hideout and we are foreigners. We must impress Senegal otherwise we may not be allowed to leave. This is a sobering thought. We are instructed to disarm ourselves, and do so without complaint or delay, though we were hardly in a position to refuse being at gun point.

Senegal is a gaunt man in his late 30s with greying hair, weathered skin and a sour expression. He is occupying one of the offices, with obvious furniture, including a safe. Behind him on a shelf is a strange object. At first glance it appears to be a sculpture of an adult human skull with a third eye in the centre of the forehead. Otto mentions the skull and Senegal gives him an intense unfriendly stare. The tension in the room increases. Otto’s knowledge of the human body is impressive considering he is not a trained doctor (he is a rocket scientist). He noted that the skull was, impossibly, real with the jawline accentuated and lizard-lie. Some hideous mutation perhaps? In any case he looked shaken. Tobias’ self-inflicted wound appears to be troubling him.

Senegal demands to know where we are from. Jonah steps in and takes control of the conversation with an outright offer of weapons. Senegal asks how many, and Jonah says 600, more or less. Jonah does not indicate a monetary amount for the rifles, instead turns the conversation to our ’employer’s’ desire to paint the Star Pools. Senegal seems bemused. He motions to a guard to fetch one of the rifles.

When Senegal examines the rifle himself he becomes angry. He calls us liars and frauds. They are his guns, he says. He has already paid for them, but they were not delivered. It transpires that he paid Jack Sterling for these weapons, but he went missing two weeks ago before delivering them. He calls the guards and it seems we are in trouble before Jonah’s quick wits jump into smooth things over. He says we are not trying to sell them twice. In fact we are trying to arrange delivery of Sterling’s weapons, but we were not aware that Sterling had been paid. Tobias chips in and practically accuses Senegal of kidnaping Sterling.

We explain that we need to go to the Star Pools and that is the price we want for delivering the weapons. Senegal wanted us to get the weapons for him, but we demurred, giving him the location instead. Senegal then agrees to giving us the information we need in exchange for the weapons. He spits on his hand and Jonah does likewise, they shake on it. We breathe a little easier.

Tobias explains that we really want to go to the Star Pools to find Jack Sterling. Senegal warns us that the Cult of the Floating Horror is very dangerous. It has been in Haiti for a long time. Fifteen years ago (the last time the stars were correctly aligned) the ritual took place. It did not succeed. The skull which so obviously disturbed Otto is in fact of Senegal’s brother, Miguel. But he was not sacrificed. Senegal proceeds to explain this strange fact. The Reader may view his explanation with skepticism, but he seemed sincere and moved as he told it.

The cult’s ritual requires a host for the creature being summoned. Miguel was to be used in that ritual and was cut with a sacred stone. Then he changed. He went missing and Senegal tracked his brother to the ceremony. He saw that his brother had changed and looked scaly, like a lizard, and he had a third eye. His stomach swelled and something was moving inside him. Senegal knew that his brother was clearly no longer human. To prevent the beast from forming completely, he shot his brother in the stomach. His brother died, but the ceremony was halted.

Senegal understands that the ceremony is being attempted again. If it is successful, Haiti will fall into a pit of dark despair. Haiti will be cleansed however. He believes this means the American scum will be wiped out, or it will facilitate his uprising. My companions are quick to point out that they are not American. I am obviously an enemy, but I try to mollify his seething hatred but saying that I understand his desire for us to leave. He does not buy that, and I am not sure I truly believe what I said. I said I would be happy to return to my previous life, but in fact here there is a great story waiting to be told. I should find out more about this resistance. It may be that some atrocities have been committed by my countrymen and that the resistance has some justification. I will think on this more.

It dawned on us then that we may have been duped. Madame Josephine may have tricked Tobias into becoming the sacrifice. We say as much. Senegal had not considered the Great Mambo to be involved with the Cult. We explain about the Sharp Stone and the potion that Tobias drank. Tobias worriedly rolls up his shirt sleeve. To our horror the skin around the wound is turning black and scaly. I has been itching. Senegal confirms this is how Miguel’s skin looked.

How can I have been so stupid to trust Madame Josephine’s story? Why did I not realise the extreme co-incidence in her just happening to have the Sharp Stone, yet knowing that hours earlier I had read the fable of the Ashanti Warrior and the Sharp Stone in the The Masked Messenger. Of course he would be able to evade the Lurker if he was supposed to become the host for the Floating Horror. However, Dr Northeast’s journal indicates something had already been done to Jack Sterling. Perhaps Mr Sterling is to be the sacrifice? How can I have forgotten in such a short time? My inattention to detail is worrying and may cost Tobias his life. For we now believe he may be the sacrifice for the ritual and that going to the Star Pools may be dangerous for him, yet we must still find Jack Sterling. What should we believe?

We have much to consider tonight. Senegal said we must stay here while the weapons are retrieved and tomorrow someone will take us to the Star Pools. He did say that Miguel had been unconscious and this may accelerate the change. Tobias must attempt to stay awake at all costs. I hope we are able to save him in some way and he does not succumb to the Mambo’s spell. That is if we survive the night and Senegal does not eliminate us as potential witnesses to his secrets.

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Day 3: Terrible revelations

Day 2: Friday 31st October 1926, Senegal’s warehouse, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

We elect to stay in the warehouse overnight. The guards conducted us to another room. Henry suggests that the Sharp Stone should be separated from Tobias, perhaps to slow down the reaction, but Tobias is reluctant to let it out of his sight. He does consent to Henry examining the Stone, however.

With extremely delicate care, and wearing thick leather gloves, Henry turns over the Stone in its case. Despite all his precautions, and with no evidence of fumbling involved, the Stone cuts him on the thumb, drawing blood. Henry reports feeling powerful and as Tobias puts the Stone away he feels the same reluctance to part with it. However, he determines that he does not want it near him, the lure is too reminiscent of some powerful drug. Henry is clearly disturbed by his injury and is constantly worrying it to cause it to bleed out the poison inside (if there is such a thing).

Otto and I settle down to catch some sleep. Jonah agrees to take the first watch while Tobias and Henry try to stay awake. Jonah discovers that the door to this room is barred. Immediately, he becomes agitated and resolves to work on unbarring the door which is bolted from the outside.

After a couple of hours of painstaking work the door is opened from outside. Senegal and his guards want to speak to us to impart some important information. Jonah wakes Henry and I.

Senegal starts by saying that Tobias is sick and not well. We know this, of course. He continues to explain that there is something about Miguel’s story that he had not told us. He had not mentioned that when he saw Miguel in his black scaly form with a third eye, that eye was Miguel and the other two were yellow and pupil-less. Somehow he knew that his brother was still there, as if the eye was part of the past. Even after he had killed the thing in its stomach and the creature that was Miguel lay dead, Senegal still sensed something alive in that eye, a presence as of his brother. But when he returned for the remains later, the presence was gone.

Tobias asks if Senegal had witnessed his brother’s transition from man to beast, but he did not see it. Senegal leaves us, grudgingly allowing the door to remain ajar (for Jonah’s sake). One of his men will take us to the Start Pools tomorrow. At this point it is worth mentioning that the black scaliness on Tobias’ arm has spread and Henry’s wound has blackened in a similar fashion, causing him much consternation.

In the morning we retrieve our car (careful to ensure we are not followed) and set out to follow the car of Senegal’s guard, who does not speak English. We drive for a few hours along a hilly dirt road filled with potholes. At one point, despite careful driving, Tobias hits a particularly nasty pothole and we burst a tyre. Jonah and I replace the tyre as quickly as we can. The car in front eventually stops at the base of a hill and the guard indicates that we should continue on foot. Henry notices there are black scales around his wound and underneath these his skin is blackened. It is early afternoon.

We hike for three hours through cypress groves along a small trail. The guard then stops in front of us at the top of a hill. We become aware that the normal jungle noises have ceased. We can see at the bottom of the hill is a wooded valley. The guard points to the wooded area, turns around and leaves. He looked concerned and will take us no further.

At the edge of the woods we stop, trying to decide which direction to follow. Skeins of memory surface and I begin to think I have been here before. I point in a particular direction, saying that I think we should go there to find answers. The others disagree, saying their memories indicate different directions. All except Otto, who has no such urgings. With no agreed direction in our memories, we ask Otto to chose one, as we are unsure if we should trust in our sketchy memories. As we enter the jungle, it is still quiet.

Day 3: Saturday 1st November 1926, in the jungle on the way to the Star Pools, Haiti

The direction we are heading appears to loosely correspond with Jonar’s memories, and Jonah believes that if we go there he will remember something important. After a brief discussion we agree to follow his lead. As we near the place Jonah remembers, we smell decay. Immediately Jonah stops and becomes wary. He does not want to lead us forward, suddenly convinced he might see something terrible, such as his own corpse. Henry hangs back, cocking his shotgun, the rest of us press forward.

Jonah’s memory

There is a large area of trampled undergrowth as if something very large and heavy has compressed it. The sudden clearing is also full of blood. We see one left boot with foot still inside and one dismembered arm in the trees. I examine the boot more closely. It is Jonah’s boot, with presumably his foot still inside. Suddenly, we realise that Jonah has disappeared. Henry waves his shotgun around in an arc, but encounters nothing. It is as if he has just vanished. Is this some premonitory dream or hallucination of Jonah’s demise? Where has he gone? Is is some voodoo magic? Perhaps we are not really here and are having one of our unconscious episodes? Perhaps Jonah will re-appear in the hospital when we wake up? Or are we dead, are we ghosts? And what manner of beast could have caused such a terrible scene?

Tobias’ memory

Needing answers, we decide to follow Tobias’s memory, but this time we hold hands, convinced that touch will keep us safe. We reach another clearing. There is a skinless and burned body with no features. The body is covered in welts and sores and appears to have been thrashing. Tobias disappears. One moment I had been holding his hand, the next empty air. We can only presume this terrible vision depicted Tobias’s gruesome death and that he is now in the same place as Jonah. What had (or will) happened here? Unnerved, but with no other real option, we decide to follow Henry’s memory.

Henry’s memory

Another clearing, another body. This time it is clearly Henry’s body and he has clearly turned a gun on himself. A .45 revolver lies near the body. Henry has disappeared, leaving Otto and I alone. Otto takes the gun, discovering that all the bullets have been used. Otto believes we should follow my memories next. I am reluctant to do so, knowing in my heart that I will witness a scene of my death. But it may be the only way to find out what happened to the others. Despite my misgivings (Otto did not share his thoughts on what he really thought was going on) I allow Otto to convince me and we head off in the final direction.

Rupert’s Memory

My memory is an unpleasant scene. I see with disbelief and dread my body torn to shreds, ripped apart by some terrible force. I disappear, leaving Otto alone in the jungle.

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