Lucy sat across the table from the German prisoner at the kitchen of the safe house. Dr. Paine stood behind her, leaning against the wall. John and Ian were outside keeping guard.
She leaned back and turned around to the Doctor. “Neither of them knows where Nyarlathotep is at presently nor when he intends to act,” she said. I am convinced they are telling the truth. Only von Listz had direct dealings with Nyarlathotep.”
“How long will they remain under your hypnotic state?” Dr. Paine said.
“Throughout the night and tomorrow if you wish. I could also give them a command while they’re hypnotized that they would have to follow any instructions later if a certain word or phrase is spoken to them,” she said. “You should have waited until von Listz was with them at their headquarters.”
The Doctor began to argue, but said, “You’re right. It was a mistake.”
“We cannot afford mistakes,” Lucy said, her voice rising with irritation. “It is not just humanity at stake, but all of creation on Earth, including those under my rule.”
“We’re doing our best,” the Doctor said.
“That’s not good enough!” she snarled, standing, her eyes blazing red.
Dr. Paine felt his heart pound in his chest. There was menace in her stance. The lantern light grew dim, making the room even darker and shadowy. Dr. Paine feared for his life and held his breath, knowing as close as he was to her that he would be unable to draw his gun in time if he had to defend himself.
Lucy glared coldly at the German prisoner then turned away. There was a long pause. The lamp grew brighter. Then Lucy’s voice softened. “I know you are doing all that can be done. I owe you an explanation. I had a terrible nightmare when I slept and I have been on edge since. I doubt if it would have mattered if you had captured von Listz. Von Listz probably only knows where Nyarlathotep will be at certain times when he wills it. I’ve asked The Scarlet Lord to have his people seek the information as well. I know it is not an easy task.”
The gentleness of her tone shocked him even more than her menace of a moment earlier. For a brief moment, Dr. Paine thought he saw what attracted Beau to her even though she was a monster.
“Do you want to talk about your nightmare?” the Doctor asked. “As I recall from your file, you have some ability to foresee future events.”
“I can’t recall the specifics of the dream,” she said. “What is our next step?”
“We’ll leave our prisoners here for now and see if Wade needs a hand going through the files of the dead Germans. The plane with the Necronomicon should arrive around noon tomorrow and we’ll get the book so Beau can re-familiarize himself with the necessary banishment ritual.”
“Have you considered where Beau will conduct the ritual?” Lucy asked.
“Not yet,” he said.
“You’ll want ground that is defendable,” she said. “Once Beau begins, Nyarlathotep will know and do everything to attempt to stop him. While Beau can conduct the ritual inside a protective circle to keep Nyarlathotep out, he’ll send his human cultists and who knows what other horrors to try to stop him. You should ask The Scarlet Lord his advice on this. He was a great general in his day and he’ll know a good, defensible location close enough to Cairo for the ritual to be effective.”
“I will certainly do that,” the Doctor said. “The problem of course is the ritual has to be performed close enough to Nyarlathotep’s physical location.”
“Within a mile, I believe,” Lucy said. “I’ll also be able to provide you with other allies to help fight during the ritual.”
“Oh?” Dr. Paine said.
Lucy smiled at him. “You might not like your new allies,” she said. “But they will obey you if I command it.”
“We should be going,” the Doctor said. “Wade might need our help.”
Outside the headquarters of the German agents, Wade worked his way in the deep shadows of the courtyard to the rear door.
He tried the door and, to his surprise, it opened. In the next room, Wade heard the sound of a heavy object being dragged across the floor. He drew his handgun with the silencer and advanced quietly. In the next room, he saw a man pulling the bloody corpse of another man, the large gash across the throat showing how he had died.
“Don’t move,” Wade said.
The man dropped the heels of the corpse onto the hardwood floor with a thud. “It’s not what it looks like,” the man replied in English with a New England accent.
“It looks like you cut the throat of the German left behind to guard this place,” Wade said.
“Then I guess it is what it looks like,” the man said. “Yank?”
“Yes, but working freelance,” Wade said. “You?”
“American service,” he said. “Seems we had the same idea to break-in and steal the files.”
“Do not turn around either of you,” said a man with a French accent from behind Wade.
Wade said without turning. “We’re all after the same thing. I propose we all work together and pool the information we find. Opportunities like this with the Germans don’t come along often, which I assume is why we’re all here.”
“Why should I share when I have the drop on the two of you?” the French agent said.
“You can shoot one of us, but I doubt you’re fast enough to get both of us before one of us gets you. And even if we don’t the shots and screams will definitely attract Cairo’s finest standing in the street out front,” Wade said.
The Frenchman laughed. “We are at an impasse,” he said.
“So we work together?” Wade asked, looking towards the Americann and then turning to the Frenchman.
“Agreed,” the men said.
The three heard a sound at the backdoor. All three held their weapons at the ready and took cover against the wall. A flashlight beam cut through the darkness and then a man stepped into the room where they were.
“Welcome to the party,” Wade said as he clapped his gun against the new arrival’s head. “And you are?”
“I am no one,” the man answered in English with an Egyptian accent.
“He’s alright,” the American agent said laughing. “He’s Abdul of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The Frenchman clapped Wade on the back. “Come, my new friend, we have much to do. This will be a night we’ll talk about for a long time to come.”
“I am surprised no one from the British intelligence is here,” Abdul said.
“I am working with them for this evening,” Wade said.
“Do you recognize the corpse of the German guard?” the American said.
“Erik Schmitt,” the Frenchman said.
“Who is he?” Wade asked.
“Colonel Himmler’s chauffeur and personal bodyguard,” the Egyptian said.
“A right bastard,” the American said as an aside to Wade.
“I am surprised he was left here for such menial duty. I had heard he had a falling out with the ambassador over his misbehavior with the local women,” the Frenchman said.
“You heard correctly,” the Egyptian said as the four moved up the stairs. “Guard duty here must have been his punishment.”
The file cabinet locks yielded to their efforts quickly. An hour later, the four continued to examine the files by the lights of their small flashlights.
“The good and bad of the Germans is they keep meticulous records of everything,” the Frenchman said.
“I do not recognize most of the names in their correspondence,” the American said.
“Antiquarians in Germany,” Wade said.
“So they were more interested in collecting antiquities than intelligence? Why?” the Frenchman said.
“Hitler’s personal art collection?” Wade suggested.
“We keep hearing of strange rumblings of Hitler’s interest in the occult,” the American said. “Perhaps it’s related to that?”
“Would they waste so many resources on superstitious nonsense?” the Frenchman said.
“Here is something weird,” the American said. “I can’t make out the language. It starts off, ‘Hail Yog-Sothoth,’ and then it says something like ‘Chunlu fay ni guth.’”
“Stop!” Wade shouted as soon as he recognized the words. But he was too late. The American continued to read, only now his voice did not sound like his own, but much harsher. The orbs of the man’s eyes had turned black. Wade drew his silenced pistol and fired, hitting the fellow American squarely in the center of the forehead. The head moved back slightly and the round exploded out the back of the man’s skull. But the dead man’s voice continued.
“Why in God’s name did you do that for?” the Frenchman said. The Arab drew his revolver. Wade’s mind raced. Already blackness was pouring out of the man’s mouth, nostrils and ears. Wade said, “Look at him,” in order to distract the other two spies so he could work uninterrupted. He knelt down on the wood floor boards and began to draw a protective circle with a piece of chalk from his pocket. There was no time to draw it big enough to encircle the three of them. The three could run, but the Horror summoned by the man’s reading of the cursed scroll would slay not only them, but all out in the street as well. There was only one thing to do. His fingers raced to complete the circle. One error in his runes and he would be doomed for there would be no time to correct it. The Arab and the Frenchman looked at the dead American, who continued to speak in the harsh tones. His face and head was nearly hidden by the black vapor pouring out through his nostrils, mouth and the bullet holes in the front and back of his skull.
“What is happening?” the Frenchman asked. The Arab shook his head, his eyes wide with fright. The blackness thickened and flowed towards the Frenchman, who stood closest to the dead man. He backed away, but not quickly enough as he appeared to inhale some of the black vapor into him. His gasp was followed by choking noises. He fell, his eyes bulging in pain, his hands clutching at his own throat. Abdul looked frightened, but reached a hand out to pull the Frenchman to him.
“Help us,” he implored to Wade. “Help me help him.”
The black vapor moved quickly from the Frenchman up to the Arab. He looked in anguish at Wade, who continued to hastily scribble out arcane symbols on to the floor. “Save me,” Abdul begged as the vapor enveloped him.
If Wade had a second to spare, he would have fired a merciful shot into Abdul, but he knew he did not. He tried to close his ears to the sounds of the two men gasping in agony as if their insides were aflame. The vapor moved towards Wade just as he finished the last symbol in the circle and stood.
Wade closed his eyes and hoped he had not erred in his markings. He had made it with just enough room to stand. The vapor hit the circle and stopped. Wade breathed deeply. It held. The blackness continued to flow from the dead American until Wade was completely surrounded in darkness as if he were trapped inside a column.
Either von Listz or Nyarlathotep himself had left a deadly, mystical trap with the hopes to kill anyone inside the house. If Wade had fled, the Horror would have followed and slain countless innocent people in his wake. With him inside the protective circle, it would stay in the house attempting to get at him. From experience he knew the spell had a short duration, perhaps an hour at most. He listened to the men he had abandoned. As hardened as he was to death over the years, he shuddered and a tear ran down his cheek at the fate he had abandoned them to face. He could have told them to run, and they might have successfully eluded it long enough for the spell to have failed. He tried to salve his conscience with the thought of the lives that were not lost because of the decision he had made. But as he stood there surrounded by the horrifying darkness, he could only think of how he condemned two men to slow, agonizing deaths.
Unknown to Wade, however, at that very moment Dr. Paine and Lucy were about to open the back door.
Continue to Chapter 18