Dr. Paine poured Beau a drink and handed it to him.
“Drink this,” Dr. Paine said.
Beau gulped it down with unsteady hands. Dr. Paine poured him another and Beau drank it and sat down. The other two sat down. Beau saw the concern on their faces.
“You must think me a terrible coward,” he said.
“Beau, we’ve known you too long to think you a coward,” Dr. Paine said. “You experienced a terrible event when you were younger. We all liked Steve, Mark and Erik.”
Beau looked at his empty glass. “That wasn’t it,” he said in a voice so low they could barely hear him. “I cannot explain it. Words are inadequate as a resource to describe what I saw and experienced. The cultists didn’t kill Steve and Mark. What they saw did. They died screaming as they chanted the words from the Necronomicon with me. Their deaths did not stop me from the words nor did Erik’s gibbering beside me when his mind snapped. I cannot tell you what we saw. I don’t think my memory allows me to fully recall it or fathom it. I remember even long after the ritual had succeeded and Nyarlathotep was gone I continued to chant the words, nearly as mad as Erik beside me. I remember feeling chilled to the bone though my clothes were drenched with sweat. Steve’s dead hand was in my left and he had squeezed my hand so hard in his death grip that he had dislocated my small finger. The pain of that had not even succeeded in penetrating through to my brain because my consciousness was so overwhelmed by what I had seen. Finally, I threw Erik over my shoulder and carried him out with the intention of getting him help immediately. But I wandered the streets carrying him for blocks because I was in a daze.”
Beau took the flask from Dr. Paine and filled his glass again. He drank it down. “Please, if you care at all for me, do not ask me any questions of that day. Do not ask me to speak any more of it.”
“Alright, Beau,” Nellie said.
At that moment, with a loud splintering of wood, the door of their hotel room burst open.
The first man through the doorway held a small semiautomatic in his right hand, but he was off-balanced from smashing open the door with his right shoulder.
If Nellie and Dr. Paine had not confronted Beau with their weapons drawn, they would have died in a hail of gunfire before they could have pulled out their weapons. Nellie leveled her revolver in a blur of speed and fired with a loud bang. The .38-caliber round hit the man in the center of his chest and he collapsed to the floor with a thud.
The second man behind him hesitated just for the briefest moment at the sudden collapse of his companion. That pause gave Dr. Paine time to shoot, the slug plowing through the left cheekbone and out the back of the man’s skull. Blood, bone and scalp splattered into the face a third man looking in from the cover of the doorway. He ducked to the side, uttering a curse in German.
Beau, who had drawn his heavy .45-caliber semiautomatic fired twice into the wall about a foot from the doorway. The air was thick with gun smoke. The three of them heard a grunt and then a body slid down the wall and onto the floor, before collapsing sideways across the doorway. Heavy footsteps echoed down the hall from a fourth man fleeing. Beau took off in chase. As he slammed open the stairway door, a shot rang out and the thud of the round hitting the wood frame just behind his right ear was like a hammer strike.
Beau ran down the stairs, keeping as close to the far wall as he could while holding his gun out in front of him. He heard the stairwell door slam open, followed by screams from the lobby. Beau stopped. There were too many witnesses. Even if he caught up to his quarry, who probably had a getaway car in front of the hotel, the chances were the street also was filled with people. He slid his gun into his shoulder holster and raced back up the stairs, nearly colliding with Nellie and Dr. Paine on their way down.
“Escaped,” Beau said.
The three of them returned up the stairs. “That settles it,” Beau said. “We leave.”
They stepped over the bodies and the spreading pools of blood. Nellie hurried to the window.
“Too late,” she said. “The police are here.”
Continue to Chapter 5