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Chasing Shadows Over Arkham

I have given up on Amtrak finding my book bag (its been over a week, I even told them the exact seat number), and I have ordered up a new copy of Crypt of the Sorceror. I sure am glad I took it and not Curse of the Mummy! Until that comes, we have been playing The Shadow Over Arkham by Jonathan Green.

It has been rough going, with most of our adventures very short since there’s some randomness to whether you will get the address and continue past Act One.

Here is one such story.

I’m Nathaniel Cho. I was a boxer a year or two back, but you prob’ly never heard of me. When the O’Bannion gang started rigging fights, I decided it was time to hang up my gloves. Now I prowl the streets at night, looking for trouble and putting small-time crooks into the hospital. It doesn’t pay well, just what I take from their pockets, but I figure thugging thugs is honest enough work. But tonight took a strange twist.

So I’m at Velma’s Diner, planning out my evening patrol over a cup of coffee, when the couple in the next booth start having an argument. Quite-like but real angry, enough that they weren’t being quiet enough. They storm out after a bit of this, and I see they dropped a notebook on the floor. I run outside to let them know, but it’s too late – the lady is taking off in a cab, and the man has a whole block head start ahead of me and I lose him in the crowd. Well, no matter – the notebook has the prof’s name and department on it, so I’ll find them easily enough.

And I do.

But he’s dead.

He’s sprawled back in his chair without a mark on him. As I go to check him out, the window is wide open and I think something just moved outside. I get out onto the rooftop, and see something I’ve not seen before, even a guy like me, prowling the dark streets in a town as creepy as this. It looks kind of like a demon like in the bible, but black instead of red, and with no face at all – just a bald head on the front and all over it. The thing grabs at me, but this ain’t the first time some punk tried that and I let him have it. An arm lock, a knee to the knee, an elbow to the face – the thing falls against a metal grill, slips on the roof tiles, and falls four stories. My mama told me that it was our job as good people to fight the Devil, but until today she meant with prayers. She’s gonna be so proud when she hears I beat up the Devil for real… even if she doesn’t believe me.

I go back into the window to go get some help, tell someone that the prof was attacked by some sort of animal. But the cops show up just then, and figure I had something to do with the prof’s death because I was the first one here. The bastards cuff me and take me in, find out I got a record already, and stuff me in a cell. Crap. But then something weird happens, and sometimes I think the Lord really does move in mysterious ways, like I was supposed to come here. This old lady is staring at me, right? And out of the blue she starts talking about Prof Blaine, the guy whose notebook I got. She says two other profs was fighting with him, and says a poem about a new god being born when the moon changes, and three folks fighting over it. So I’m starting to wonder, if one of the other two maybe called up the Devil and did him in?

The way I see it, if they’re doing the Devil’s work I can’t abide that. And if I’m being framed for a murder I can’t abide that either.

So I’m sitting here wondering what I can do about it, and they spring me. Someone posted my bail, but the cops won’t say who. I say another prayer thanking the Lord for setting me free, and decide I gotta talk to one of those other two profs. I get to the science building, and there in the staff directory is a photo – the bug doctor is the lady from Velma’s earlier. And yeah, she was pissed. So I’m feeling good about this lead.

I go into her office, which strangely isn’t locked even though she’s not there. It’s full of creepy bugs and all, and also a crazy mask made from a human skull – so yeah, she’s into Devil stuff. And I find a photo of her and one of the big rich houses up on French Hill. It’s not much but it’s all I got to go on, so I catch the bus up to French Hill.

The house gives me the creeps even from the street, way too big and way too dark. I’m not about to knock on the door of a bunch of Devil worshipers, so I sneak around back to find a window, see what I can see without being seen. Nothing’s lit up, but one window is wide open. So I crawl in and go into the first room I see.

SLAM!

The door slams behind me, and won’t open. I hear movement and voices outside, and I hear a whole lot of buzzing in the room with me. Then the bugs start biting and stinging, and I batter on the door and it’s just no good. And I’m screaming and pounding on the door and the bugs just won’t stop stinging. Eventually the poison gets to me, and I pass out… then stop breathing.

My investigation ends here.

 

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First published July 8, 2024. Last updated July 8, 2024.