Joined: 20 Jan 2006
|Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:03 pm Post subject: Horror on the Orient Express - episode 2
|In Mr Butter’s front-room Professor Sapsford’s companions shouted at each other in confusion. Smoke and steam continued to float up from the basement as the sound of a train whistle faded. Mr Butter’s housekeeper ran into the hallway and looked aghast down the stairs.
As silence returned to the house, Dr Fellowes, Professor Carlton-Gore and Commander Pembroke returned to the steam and smoke-filled basement. They discovered that the train had gone and so had both Professor Sapsford and Mr Butter.
Mr Butter’s housekeeper became quite upset and required the comfort of Dr Fellowes. She wanted to call the Police and Dr Fellowes agreed that this appeared to be the correct course of action. However, as Dr Fellowes helped the elderly lady to the telephone Commander Pembroke intervened. He warned the housekeeper against involving the Police and talked her out of contacting them.
Leaving the housekeeper to her grief, the companions took Mr Butter’s toy train and (rather large and bulky) model railway and headed for home, debating crackpot ideas for rescuing Professor Sapsford and Mr Butters along the way.
As the mysterious train which had crashed into Mr Butter’s basement, picked up speed and disappeared through a wall and into another dimension, Niles Sapsford suddenly snapped out of the trance which had led him to climb aboard. He looked around anxiously and realised that the other passengers were watching him with a malevolent hunger in their eyes. They began to edge closer.
Niles grasped Mr Butter by the elbow and pulled him towards one end of the carriage. The other passengers followed and Niles was forced to push several aside. As he and Mr Butter grew closer to the door at the end of the carriage the passengers grew more bold and started pulling and clawing at them. Mr Butter screamed as one figured grabbed at him and put his lips to his mouth. Niles was pushed to the ground and another of the zombie-like figures kissed him upon the mouth. Niles felt his life force being sucked out of him and he struggled to free himself.
Then a man dressed in threadbare Victorian clothing burst from the door to the next carriage. He cracked one of the passengers on the head and pulled Sapsford and Butters through the door to safety.
After regaining his composure Niles asked his saviour’s name. This gentleman introduced himself as Randolph Alexis and said that he had been trapped in this dimension for 11 years. He had fashioned the front carriage of the train into a haven and in the centre of this haven he had constructed a model railway from what appeared to be human body parts. Randolph explained that he was trying to replicate the model railway track which now belonged to Mr Butters. Mr Butters explained where Randolph’s model was lacking and assisted him in getting it right.
As they worked the other passengers gathered for an assault upon the carriage. Niles fought them off. As he fought he caught a glimpse of a model train racing around the gory miniature railway track behind him. All of a sudden the train gave a lurch and through a window Niles snatched a glimpse of the English countryside. He grasped the emergency brake and pulled as hard as he could. There was a squeal of brakes and another sound, but then he knew nothing…
Not long after Dr Fellowes, Professor Carlton-Gore and Commander Pembroke returned to their accommodation, there was a knock at the front door. Upon opening the door the trio were surprised to see the apparently battle-scarred, but cheery, face of Professor Sapsford. The physicist recounted his tale, although he was somewhat hazy in the details and could not remember the last few hours at all.
The companions decided that it was time to put investigations in England on hold and flee to the safer confines of the continent. Professor Sapsford decided to return to Cambridge to put his affairs into order and Dr Fellowes decided to return to High Wycombe. Before departing Dr Fellowes rang the Bishop of London to request leave and was surprised when the Bishop invited him, Professor Carlton-Gore and Commander Pembroke for morning tea the following day.
The next morning Commander Pembroke and Professor Carlton-Gore decided to make one last trip to find information in the British Museum library before visiting the Bishop. As they searched the library for tomes on Turkish occultism they spotted a man with one such book sitting at one of the reading desks. Commander Pembroke and Professor Carlton-Gore approached to speak to this gentleman and then realised with horror that he was both dead and missing his skin. Pembroke and Carlton-Gore recoiled in horror and then a piercing scream filled the room as one of the librarians also noticed the horribly disfigured corpse.
Commander Pembroke managed to see a Turkish inscription on the book lying open before the corpse. However, the navy man had no chance to examine the inscription further before the Police arrived. The Commander blustered and complained that he had an appointment to take tea with the Bishop, but his protests went unheeded. He and the Professor were questioned at some length.
Meanwhile, Dr Fellowes arrived at the Bishop’s residence and fretted over the late arrival of his friends. At the appointed hour he was invited in for tea but, before he could even begin to apologise for his companion’s absence, he was introduced to Inspector Fleming of Scotland Yard. Inspector Fleming lectured Dr Fellowes at some length and revealed a considerable knowledge of the vicar’s recent movements. Dr Fellowes advised that he intended holidaying abroad and this appeared to satisfy the Inspector’s demands that Dr Fellowes cease his investigations in London. After finishing his tea, Dr Fellowes excused himself, thanked the Bishop for the tea and then left. On his way out he met Commander Pembroke and Professor Carlton-Gore who were in a rush to meet the Bishop. Dr Fellowes intercepted them and warned them of the Inspector’s presence. He expressed the view that the Inspector had acted very oddly in not having them arrested despite the knowledge that he had gained. Dr Fellowes felt that this was somewhat suspicious.
Dr Fellowes returned to High Wycombe while Commander Pembroke and Professor Carlton-Gore decided not to take tea with the Bishop, but to instead continue their enquiries in London. Despite wearing out a considerable amount of shoe leather, Pembroke and Carlton-Gore discovered little. They did find that the model train was built in 1897, the same year as the real train vanished from the Liverpool line. Professor Carlton-Gore also managed to translate the inscription on the toy train. Written in Turkish the inscription rather eerily read “the skinless one will not be denied”.
Further investigation into the identity of Randolph Alexis revealed that he was an occultist with links to the Golden Dawn and the Silver Twilight occult organisations. His son, Alfred, was also an occultist and disappeared in 1917 in familiar sounding circumstances – smoke and steam being seen in the room from which he vanished.
Professor Sapsford checked up on his companion in the other dimension, Mr Butter, and found that he too had returned to England, but had been committed to an insane asylum.
The following day, the last before leaving England, was spent conducting last minute enquiries. Professor Carlton-Gore found that the Topkani Museum in Constantinople obtained the Sedefkar Scrolls while a visit to the widow Alexis discovered that a surprisingly youthful Randolph had tried to see her recently, but she had assumed he was a charlatan and sent him on his way.
Such was the pace of investigations that it was not until the afternoon that any of the companions had a chance to glance at the morning papers. It was then that they discovered that the skinless body in the British Museum library belonged to none other than Beddowes, the manservant of Dr Fellowes’ good friend Professor Smith.
It was in a subdued mood that the companions departed England the next morning. Rain poured from the skies as their ferry departed Dover, and it was with collars turned up and hats lowered that they watched England shrink into the mist.
On arrival in Calais a coach was booked and the companions journeyed to Paris. Accommodation was taken at the Hotel Bourse near the Biblioteque Nationale. The librarians at the Biblioteque were particularly bureaucratic and a visit had to be made to the British embassy to obtain letters of good conduct. After obtaining these passes there was no time left in the day for investigation, so the companions decided to instead take in the sights of Paris. Commander Pembroke and Dr Fellowes spent a delightful evening at a performance of Aida, while the Professors Sapsford and Carlton-Gore enjoyed the somewhat seamier sights of the Moulin Rouge.
The companions returned to the Biblioteque Nationale the next morning. A little headway was made and some information was found about the Comte Fenalik who had been mentioned by Professor Smith. It was discovered that he had been arrested by the French Queen just prior to the revolution. One source mentioned that during the arrest his house was raided and much was destroyed.
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.