The Waffle Hut was crowded, and none of the six strangers in line were in the mood to wait another half hour or so when the table finally opened up, so they were seated together, ‘family style’ as their hostess Marge mentioned.
None came from Kingsport, but two, at least, were not complete strangers. Marge Swanson recognized Annie Marsters as Irma’s grand-daughter, and insisted that she eat for free. Biff Erickson spoke briefly with Herman Joseph about his new position on the Kingsport Mariners minor league baseball team, and arranged to meet him at Mariners Park later on that day.
Once they had ordered their breakfast, Andy Sullivan, the town’s Deputy Sheriff ran into the diner to talk to Sheriff Roy Murthy about something important. A bemused Bethany Carver overheard the Sheriff and Deputy Andy discussing ‘more zombies than usual’ at the cemetary. Andy and Roy collected Herman Joseph, the town’s mortician and baseball enthusiast, and left the Waffle Hut, but not before Herman dropped his diary.
Biff was the only one of the newcomers to Kingsport who saw what happened when the book dropped. A cloud of sinister smoke come out of the book and enveloped the six strangers. Herman gathered up the book and left with the police officers, but the cloud remained. He watched in surprise as the restaurant cleared out of regulars, as Marge frowned and nodded at the patrons. The rest of his table mates sat in a stupor, only coming out of it once the locals had left.
Once the cloud had dissipated and everyone had finally come to their senses, the bus boy, Miguel, passed in front of the place where the book had fallen and slipped on what appeared to be ice cube. He lost his balance, knocking a knife off a nearby table with his tray of dirty dishes. The knife ricocheted off one of the stools at the breakfast counter and impaled the poor busboy’s left eyeball. Miguel fell to the floor, his head hitting the stool snapping his neck with an audible crack.
Marc Newton and Bethany Carver ran forward to see if there was anything they could do to assist while Marge called for emergency services. By the time Marc was quite certain he was dead, Miguel had begun to stir and moan, and shambled to his feet. The reanimated Miguel lunged at Otto, the diner’s gruff waiter. The kitchen staff dispatched Miguel with shocking quickness.
At this time it was noticed that all of those eating at the table had a strange cross-like tattoo on their right hands (something none of them had had before). Marge and her staff tried to calm the customers down. Rita and Cookie paid special attention to Annie, noting that she seemed a little freaked out by what was going on. Cookie, a large Hispanic man with kind eyes and a soft smile gave his prized Frying Pan to Annie for protection and Marge told her to visit her grandmother. Freddy Hsu, the town’s medical examiner came to collect the body. Freddy and the diner staff seemed to act as if this kind of thing happened every day. Since this strangeness all seemed to arise from Herman Joseph, the group decided to go to the police station and find out how to get this darn tattoo off of their hands. To make matters worse, the tattoo seemed to be filling in with a kind of blood red ink. That’s never a good sign.
Herman was immediately implicated, as being the town’s voodoo practitioner. He refused to speak to the police. He was a little more forthcoming when he spoke to Marc (who got access to the interrogation room by dint of his Federal Agent status). According to Herman, he had nothing to do with this curse. It must have been an attack meant for him. Miguel and the visitors just happened to get in the way. He seemed to think his brother Joseph was behind all of this, and that it must have had something to do with what had happened at the crypt the night before. He was woken up around midnight by some noise in the graveyard, but though it was just his brother Joseph doing something that didn’t concern him. He told Marc to investigate the crypt and find out what his brother was up to. As Marc was wrapping up his interrogation, he noticed a three leg mark on Herman’s arm (which he also refused to comment on).
Annie wanted nothing to do with investigating a crypt full of zombies, so Deputy Andy gave the three men an extra shovel that he had and directed them to the Funeral Home and Cemetery, where he would meet them after he drove Annie to the medical center where her grandmother was being looked after. Chardonnay Crystal Glass went with Anny as did Bethany who wanted to take her own car to this investigation of the cemetery (and to pick up her 9mm automatic out of her glove compartment). Biff, Marc and Flint McNitty went directly to the funeral home, where they saw apparent undead shambling around behind the fence that enclosed the cemetery. They waited in the parking lot for Andy to meet them. While they waited the three men searched the outside of funeral home and grabbed a Tire Iron from the shed in case they had to deal with those rotting corpses before Andy returned.
Annie and Chardonnay spoke to Irma, who explained that she had spent many years fighting against the forces of chaos and disaster that swirled around Kingsport, and that her son James (Annie’s father) had wanted nothing to do with that life for either himself or his family. She was recovering from some sort of attack herself, and was not well enough to join the fight directly, but she feared the mark of the cross was a bad omen indeed. She told Annie and Chardonnay to talk to Alice Young at the University library.
Meanwhile, Andy and Bethany met the others at the cemetery, and were soon battling zombies (who were frightening but slow). They cut a swath of re-death and destruction Flint was sure that these souls were actually alive and just corrupted by voodoo zombie powder. He was positive that he saw the marks of power and tried to remove themfrom the walls while the others bashed undead heads. They fought the corpses of those awaiting internment, and other corpses throughout the cemetery. They cleared the cemetery and made their way to the crypt in the far corner, re-killing about 20 corpses along the way. All the while Bethany filmed this macabre battle, thinking that there must be some kind of scam going on here.
When they arrived at the crypt, they found a different kind of animated corpse, ones who looked like a recently executed paramilitary force. While battling these stronger zombies, Biff broke his precious baseball bat, and ran back to the funeral home to get Roberto Alomar’s bat, which Herman had kept on display as his new weapon. Biff liked the idea of showing off his zombie killing prowess in an attempt to curry the favor of the very hot Bethany.
In the crypt itself they found (very fresh seeming) zombies dressed in robes, like they were in a kind of religious cult. There were also signs that a 4 foot by 4 foot object was removed from the crypt, judging from the signs in the dust. The scene looked like the robed cult members tried to fend off an assault from approximately 10 men in paramilitary gear. At least two of the paramilitary assailants survived to leave via helicopter. Flint said definitively that it was a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, rigged for stealth incursion, based on the skid marks made in the field next to the crypt.
Meanwhile, Annie and Chardonnay spoke with the young librarian, Alice, who thought the marks were signs of an ancient Mayan Talking Cross. Chardonnay noticed that Alice had an interesting cat tattoo peeking out of her left bosom. Although Alice was leery of Chardonnay (apparently sensing in her some association with the Hogwolep family) she agreed to offer information.
Annie found out that Irma used to head the university’s Archeology Department and that Marge, Cookie, and the rest of the Waffle Hut employees worked for her, ‘helping her’ find ‘things’. Grandma Irma left the university a few years ago to open her own antique shop, but she still ‘consulted’ with the university on occasion.
According to Alice’s associate Dr. Goodman Greensmith, Chairman of the Department of Noetic Science, they were doomed to die within the month unless the cross itself could be found and destroyed (he suggested the fires of Mt. Doom, or some similar combination of temperature/pressure), though he did not know where they could find the cross. Apparently it had disappeared sometime during the late 1700s, but there were also reports that the cross resurfaced sometime in 1941, during the Nazi’s insatiable hunt for antiquities with an occult association. He handed Annie his card, one with a similar cat marking as seen on Alice’s chest. He instructed her to call him if she needed anything, and that he would let her know if he found out anything as well. The front of the card just had the mark of the cat and an Egyptian symbol below it. The back of the card just had a phone number and under it were the words ‘Servants of Bast’.
Annie and Chardonnay were instructed to go back to the police station and meet up with the rest of their group.
(to be continued…)
Thanks Lise for the excellent write-up. I edited it a little to add and clarify some information