By the time that everyone arrived back at the police station, they realized that one person from their group was missing. Flint never showed up. Flint was lagging a little behind, but was following the caravan as they left the cemetery. He couldn’t have gotten lost. Kingsport wasn’t that big. Needless to say, the group was concerned. Sheriff Murthy sent Andy out to retrace their path and look for Flint.
Marc was sure that Herman knew what was going on at the cemetery and decided to question him again. Either Herman was a truly skilled lire or truly oblivious, but according to him, he was so upset with the outcome of the Mariner’s game the night before that he took a sleeping pill and went to bed. He awoke around midnight, hearing a scuffle in the graveyard, but in his drug-induced state, thought it was only kids messing around. If there was mischief of the type that Marc described happening, then it must be the fault of his brother Joseph.
By the time that Marc was finished questioning Herman, Andy radioed back to the Sheriff with some disturbing news. He found Flint’s Vespa on the side of the road, not far from the cemetery. Flint was nowhere to be found. He would continue to look around, but feared that something might have happened to Flint.
The gang wanted to find out what the source of these marks on their hands was and how to get rid of them. Annie and Chardonnay shared the information that they learned from Alice Young and Goodman Greensmith about the Mayan Talking Cross and how they think that’s the source of the curse. The best course of action was to follow the path of the cross. Therefore, Herman’s brother Joseph needed to be questioned.
Since real life was creeping into this investigation, Marc called Dr. Buckley to push off his investigation of those cow deaths to tomorrow. Biff didn’t have to be at the ballpark until tomorrow morning as well. Annie reluctantly called her father and bought herself some time to continue investigating this curse as well. The loss of Flint was disturbing, but Andy seemed to be on the trail as best as anyone could be.
With few other leads the group made their way to the Kingsport Horticultural Society, by way of the lunch counter at Woolworths. The Kingsport Woolworths is a throwback to the 1950s, with an authentic lunch counter/soda fountain. The hot dogs and Root Beer Floats were strangely comforting, giving Annie, Biff and Chardonnay a feeling of vitality and serenity.
The Kingsport Horticultural Society was in a non-descript building in the middle of town. There were no plants, just gray masonry to meet our investigators. The sign on the door said; ‘Closed for Private Memorial’. Feeling that they needed answers, Chardonnay knocked on the door. A tall muscular, bald, African American gentleman in a suit opened the door. Recognizing him as Joseph Joseph, Herman’s brother, Chardonnay talked her way into the building.
Joseph Joseph was polite, and listened to the group’s tale. ‘Perhaps we can both help each other.’ He said and led them to the Society’s lounge. The interior of the Horticultural Society was strange. Robed individuals with ceremonial daggers in their belts were milling about. Just as the group entered the lounge, an elderly robed individual emerged from a doorway, looked over the group and said; ‘We don’t need their help. Just kill them.’
Four robed individuals seemed to appear out of nowhere and tried to subdue the group. Biff was the only one who avoided being manhandled, and that made him mad. He was primed for a fight. Daggers were drawn. The situation was tense, when Joseph moved to calm the situation. ‘Look, they are already dead. We should just let them go.’ He said in an assertive voice. With that the robed individuals moved to manhandle Marc and Chardonnay out the door. Bethany and Annie tried to calm Biff down, each grabbing one of his arms and leading him out. Biff was mad, but having two hotties clutched on to him did reduce his urge to fight.
As they were being pushed out of the Horticultural Society, Chardonnay found a piece of paper with some interesting information on it, including the address of the Hogwolep estate. Marc on the other hand, saw something so disturbing that he fainted. He came to outside of the building, the horrifying vision still fresh in his head.
The burly robed man pushed Marc into the hall. Disoriented, he stumbled to the left and paused, taking in the sight through the opened doorway in front of him. The room was crescent shaped, opening to a large greenhouse, overgrown with menacing vines. In the middle of the room was a stone alter. Lying on the alter was a female corpse wrapped in white bandages. Her skin was leathery and gray, drawn taught over her bones. Three daggers were sticking out of her chest, converging on where her heart would have been. Three robed individuals extracted the daggers from her chest and proceeded to each slice their right arm, letting the blood from that wound flow onto the chest of the corpse. With that, the corpse began to moan and move. It arose from the alter and looked directly at Marc. After that, his world went blank and all he remembers is waking up outside of the Horticultural Society with a smoldering headache.
Following that ordeal, perhaps it might be best to call the number on the card that Goodman Greensmith gave Annie. Bethany dialed the number. A smooth male voice answered. ‘Yes Miss Carver, how can I help you? I’m Dr. Phips. Goodman has briefed me on your situation.’ Bethany relayed the events of the past hour to Dr. Phips and asked to meet with either him or Dr. Greensmith as soon as possible. ‘Things are rather busy today at the Institute, but we do want to help. Dr. Mary Parsons will meet you at the Kingsport Maritime Museum in two hours. Now I need to speak with young Miss Marsters.’ Bethany handed the phone to Annie. ‘Annie, make sure you stop by and talk to your grandmother before you meet with Mary.’ Dr. Phips said and then hung up.
Irma Marsters was in her room painting when Annie and the rest of the group stopped by. ‘Annie, Rita would like it if you stayed with her while you are in town. She’s watching my place. Just don’t mess around in the shop without supervision.’ Annie was grateful. She liked Rita and was glad that she was connecting with grandma.
The painting that grandma was working on was disturbing. It was a hideous winged creature. ‘I keep seeing this in my dreams.’ Irma said about the painting. ‘For the past week, things have been affecting me and I don’t understand why.’ Annie and Chardonnay went on to tell Irma about meeting with Alice and Goodman, and then to tell her about the zombies and their harrowing experience at the Horticultural Society.
‘I was on the path of the Mayan cross in the 80s.’ Irma began. ‘Based on my research, the cross was like a radio to other dimensions. Additionally, it amplified the magic of groups who tried to harness its energy. This is all starting to make sense. If the Cult has gotten ahold of the cross, then it would make sense that voodoo magic was prevalent. It also explains why I am being targeted by its effects. While I was in the Yucatan, I probably was somehow tuned into the energies of the cross.’
‘I would venture to guess that the Cult doesn’t have the cross anymore, since Joseph seemed to want you to help them find it. I’m sure that they let you live to act as bait and to expose who in the Servants you might be working with. You need to find out who has the cross. It seems that you are being directed to the Maritime Museum. That’s a good start. Find out where the cross has been. It might be trying to get back there. Mary is a good person. Just remember that the Maritime Museum focuses on pirates for a reason.’
With that, it was getting late and the group needed to get their cars and drive over to the museum. On the walk to the parking garage, a strange character approached the group from a dark alleyway. ‘I couldn’t help noticing that yous guys might be in the market for some exotic merchandise. I’m honest Vinnie, purveyor of Kingsport’s most exclusive van-based merchandise. If you would like to peruse my showroom, even you Mr. Federal Officer, I’m sure that we can come to some kind of mutually beneficial understanding.’ With that, Marc and Bethany were game to walk down the alley and see what this ‘honest’ Vinnie was offering.
Deep in the alley was parked a white panel van. At the back of the van were two very large gentlemen standing behind a table. On the table was a three ring binder that said ‘catalogue’ on the cover. The notebook had a variety of weaponry available, even a Browning Automatic Rifle and a flamethrower. There were even C4 explosives and all types of ammunition. Bethany chuckled and ordered a couple of boxes of 38 caliber ammo for her gun. Marc ordered 4 boxes of 9mm shells and asked if they could be delivered to his hotel. Vinnie assured him that would not be a problem, given a small handling fee.
After the amusing diversion with Vinnie and a short walk to their vehicles, the group made their way to the Maritime Museum to meet up with Mary Parsons and the curator of the museum, Stewart Ross. The Maritime Museum, also known as the pirate museum, was dedicated to the privateering past of Kingsport. The museum was less Disney and more Smithsonian in its depiction of pirates. It seems that Kingsport served as the hub of pirate activity during the 1700s and even today has ties to nefarious underground activity.
Mary introduced herself to the group and indicated that it might be valuable to discuss the disposition of the talking cross with Stewart. It was reported that none other than Cortes first reported the cross during his conquest of the Yucatan in 1517. Being an aficionado of large golden artifacts, Cortes appropriated the cross and had it sent back to Spain. The cross never made it. Here the story is murky. Some say that the cross cursed the ship and it sunk with all hands lost. Others tell the story of how pirates out of Tobago plundered Cortes’ galleon and took the cross. (Here’s some information on the cross if one was to google it: http://www.rightreading.com/mayan/talking-cross.htm )
Two hundred years later, the pirate ship Desire was said to be carrying the cross to Kingsport while on a slave run to Hispaniola. There has been no word about the cross since then. The only report was one of Hitler’s Germany sending a team to Kingsport in search of the cross. That report is sketchy however. During World War II, Kingsport would be the natural place for German U boats to resupply. Kingsport has always turned a blind eye to these types of things. Hitler was obsessed with so called occult antiquities, so I doubt that there is a connection.’ Mr. Ross concluded as if he was finishing a lesson.
‘But then there is this business of a German U-Boat being found off the coast of Kingsport, and all this stuff starts happening after it’s found. Don’t you think there’s a link between the two?’ Marc asked. ‘Well, Maitland found evidence of that wreck and asked us if we would help with the salvage.’ Ross said matter of factly. ‘We thought it might make a good exhibit and document how Kingsport really hasn’t lost their pirate roots. You need to talk to Maitland Russell over at Kingsport Salvage about what he found. We just told him that we’d help fund his salvage if he shared his find with the museum.’
Marc used one of the tourist binocular stations to look across the bay at the Kingsport Salvage building. Things looked quiet, but it was getting late. He thinks that they should start their investigations there after he finishes up the investigation of the cows. After all, he has a month to live; spending a morning actually doing his job is probably a good thing. While he was looking across the bay, his phone rang. ‘Agent Newton, this is Deputy Andy. We found your friend Flint. He’s fast asleep in his Winnebago out her at Mariner’s Park. We impounded his Vespa, so I have no Idea how he got from where I found his scooter to here. He seems awful tired, so you might want to check back with him in the morning.’ ‘Thanks Andy.’ Marc said as he hung up his cell phone. ‘At least we found him.’ Marc thought as he went to the parking lot to rejoin his group.
After they left the museum, the group asked Mary; ‘What good was that? We need to know where this cross is, not where it’s been.’ Mary replied. ‘The important point here is that someone held the cross for over 200 years without any detection or report. They have deep and powerful Kingsport roots. We believe that this same group has taken the cross from the Cult. Therefore, if we find out where the cross has been, we might find out where it is going back to.’
With that, the group made their way back to the Waverly hotel, where Rita met them for dinner. Rita entertained everyone (except Annie, who was a little shocked) with a story of James and Annie’s mother, Helen. James Marsters was the bookish son of Irma, rugged field archeologist, purveyor of rare antiquities. James was smart and Irma wanted to keep James at arm’s length from the dangers that some of these antiquities held.
During High School, James befriended and eventually dated a young firebrand, Marge Swanson. Irma loved Marge, seeing a lot of her in the young girl. The relationship went strong for two years through their senior year in High School, until James decided to break it off with Marge the summer after they graduated.
James wanted to move on and go to college away from Kingsport. Over the summer, he caught the eye of Helen Whitehouse, a beautiful young socialite from a prestigious Kingsport family. Irma accepted James’ decision to break it off with Marge, but thought of Marge as a daughter. Knowing that James was going away to school, she hired Marge to help run her shop and helped Marge gain admission to the local university.
One day, James brought Helen back to the shop to show off some of the junk that his mom collected. While in a back room, the two youngsters shared a kiss. That kiss turned rather amorous and James found himself making out with Helen in the back of his mom’s shop.
Unfortunately, Marge came back from lunch early that day and found the amorous couple in the back of the shop. Apparently, she still had feelings for James, but expressed those feelings with less than desirable actions. The story goes that Marge grabbed a cylindrical object off of a shelf, and by turning the lid, a bright light jumped out and Helen disappeared.
Only later it was found that a half-naked Helen Whitehouse was found on the top floor of the Hog Island lighthouse. She was terrified and claimed to have been in a deep conversation with her dead great grandmother Jessica about Kingsport pirates and something named Bast. James never forgave Marge or his mother for this. The Whitehouse family moved to Newton, only Helen’s older sister, Cornelia, moved back to Kingsport.
With that, the group parted ways for the evening. Bethany and Chardonnay walked Annie back to her grandmother’s shop where she would spend the night in Rita’s charge. Everyone went back to their respective hotels, vowing to meet again for waffles early tomorrow morning.