“Here’s the package. Delivered intact and undamaged…for the most part.”
“She got a little violent and our martial arts friend didn’t take to kindly to that. Were she a football, she would have cleared the uprights.”
Grace chuckled, set the canister containing the over active children’s doll, Joilette, off to the side and then said with a more serious face, “Alright. Debriefing time. How’d it all go down?”
Granger stretched and took on a more relaxed posture. " Well, it started out nice enough. We met at a coffee shop and Natalie tried her best to get everyone to introduce themselves. Most were pretty reserved at first. They obviously had their secrets like most of us do. Right off the bat though I began having reservations. The two occult specialists weren’t being very forthcoming with info on how to deal with ghosts. The emo theif, Conner had to work some serious google-fu to let the rest of us in on things like “Anchors” and “Essence.” Any way, we split up and did some digging around. "
In our investigations, we found out that our pal Jackson Carver had hired a law firm to try and buy out the property from Alistair Thorne for whatever reason. Don’t know if he wanted the land itself or the stuff in the museum. Regardless, we suddenly realized the stakes of resolving this were a little bit higher and that Carver probably had a hand in what was going on. Seems a good power play to ratchet up the hauntings of a haunted museum in order to force the tenants out.
Any way, we assembled at the museum, walked in, and met Calliope. She was the employee of the museum that contacted us in the first place. Apparently a ghost had been attacking her in the upstairs bathroom. I’m talking scratches raking the lengths of her arms and what not. She said she caught a glimpse of the thing in the mirror. Long black hair, pale, blood stained teeth. Terrifying. She said there had been other victims, all female. "
“Is this where you started flirting?” Grace interrupted.
Granger shifted uncomfortably. “I mean…yes. Listen she said all the ladies had something in common. She was damn attractive. So I suggested the common thread was all the victims were attractive. And I was right and it was an important clue…and you’re making me defensive on purpose to get a rise out of me. Well played.”
“Any way! It was an important clue. And this is where I feel our occult specialists let us down a bit. We get to the painting room on the tour and see a painting titled ‘Botan Dōrō’ which I have since Googled and in hind sight should have set off all kinds of alarms because it had to do with a ghost story featuring a jilted Japanese woman.”
“Seems a bit on the nose,” Grace said.
" Right? Chuck Manson was in the religious artifacts room studying various implements used in exorcisms. Also,can I just stop here and highlight the fact that we have a Charles Manson on the team who, upon googling after the fact as well, turns out to be a mass murderer who somehow avoided prison? Not only that, upon rejoining us in the gift shop he proceeded to try and use this infamy in order to extract information from one of the other employees of the museum. This did not go his way and the gift shop attendee tried to leave. He was obviously lying and knew something. Our martial arts friend tried to detain him and that’s when Guy, the security guard, showed up."
“Oh lovely. I’m sure he welcomed you guys with open arms.” Grace said, rolling her eyes.
“Yeah not so much. Had to talk him down and explain we’d get out of his hair quicker if he let us get the info out of the kid. Luckily, the kid was willing to listen to reason at this point and let us know that the ghost was actually a beautiful Japanese lady that he obviously had the hots for. So that pretty much confirmed our ghost was the Botan Dōrō from the stories. At this point the employees are informed by Alistair that we are to have free reign of the place. They lock up and leave. Meanwhile Richard Miller the archaeologist/conman was downstairs in the Projector room and apparently saw our jilted lover ghost whose name it turns out was Akane. We of course didn’t find this out till later when we found him downstairs in a salt circle trying to reason with the crazy ghost lady.
This is where I kind of lose track of the order of events because a cascade of fairly horrible things started happening. Conner, the emo thief I mentioned earlier, was busy breaking into Alistair’s office and stumbling upon a treasure trove of information concerning our current mission and Jackson Carvers interest in the property. So good on him. The martial artist discovers that Joilette has decided to get up and take a walk, like creepy kids dolls are want to do. Chuck and I decide to grab the Botan Dōrō painting because it is probably Akane’s anchor, so I go to walk into the painting room and am struck by a blast of heat. Turns out Akane isn’t the only ghost we’d see that night. Standing before us is a literal man on fire. And he also happens to be standing between us and the painting we need.
SO I do what any mildly sane person would and call for someone to grab the fire extinguisher we saw in the bathroom earlier. Martial Arts man bravely steps into the bathroom, where the door slams shut. Apparently Joilette wanted to play with him. Seeing the burning man winding up for another fire blast, I say screw it at this point and run at him with an upside down can of condensed air…"
“You what?” Grace says doing her best not to spit her drink at Granger.
“Listen we needed the painting and it seemed the thing to do at the time. You can get a good blast of cold air out of those things when you turn them upside down. Any way…it was actually pretty effective and it bought me enough time to grab the Botan Dōrō painting off the wall. As i turned and ran to drop kick the door that had slammed shut behind me, I caught another blast of fire in the back which I actually used to propel me harder into the door and break it down. Back in the hall Chuck was apparently trying to divine where the source of all the insanity was and found out it was downstairs somewhere. As I run downstairs with the Botan Dōrō, i drop the canister ASI provided for Martial Arts guy (who had apparently round house kicked his way out of the bathroom) to put Joilette in should he catch her. I get down stairs and see Richard being fully embraced by Akane. Like predatory seduction embrace. She tries to work her brain magic on me and Conner who had just emerged from the office, but she must have been sufficiently distracted by Richard’s swooning because it had no effect on us. Turns out burning man wasn’t content staying in his room upstairs and followed me down the stairs, setting the place on fire in the process.”
Grace shakes her head disapprovingly.
“Wait. It gets better. Conner decides he’s had enough of this craziness and slices up the Botan Dōrō. Akane shimmers and blinks and disappears. Conner then bee lines it for the projector that had been showing old documentary footage of ghosts and what not in the first room on the tour downstairs. I turn to deal with burning man and take another blast of fire to the face. I grab the fire extinguisher from downstairs and put him out…which didn’t really make anything better because now there is just a charred man coming at me. Richard burns the Botan Dōrō in the now impressive fire on the stairs though, and we do the same with the Burning Man’s painting that Chuck retrieved. That’s about the time I look over and see Conner taking the lens off the projector and smashing it with the butt of his knife. You could feel the tension fall away at that point. Apparently that Lens had been put there by the kid in the gift shop and had a strange symbol etched into it that was weakening gauntlet in that area allowing the spirit free-for-all we were enjoying.
We put the fires out at this point and realize martial arts guy, who’s name I really should have learned but I realize now he never told us and nobody thought to ask, is upstairs still dealing with Joilette. They’re in the gift shop playing a cat and mouse game in the dark. So I go upstairs, hearing the commotion the whole way up, and flip on the lights…much to the surprise of Joilette who is pressed up against the wall trying to hide on one of the now very well lit shelves. She called me a cheater and martial arts guy scooped her up in the canister ASI was so nice to provide for her transfer."
“Well good job on that and getting rid of the ghosts. But it sounds like you pretty much wrecked the place. I got a pretty good report from Alistair…” Grace said with a confused tone.
“Come on, Grace. I wasn’t going to leave the place looking like that. We spent the rest of the night fixing up the place as best we could and when Alistair got there in the morning we convinced him to power through the loss of some of his most prized artifacts and enjoy the hunt for newer even better items of spooky nature. Even convinced him not to sell his place to Jackson Carver. So while we lost the “gateway lens” from the projector, things went pretty damn well I’d say."
“It could have gone worse, that’s for sure. Alright then. Here’s your pay for Joilette. Anything else?” Grace said, rubbing her temples.
“Yeah actually. There is something else. I’m not sure about some of these people, Grace. I’m hearing stories of past exploits that honestly have me wondering if the Contingent is less a bulkhead holding back the flow of darkness or more a contributor to the darkness itself. I mean I’m all about fighting the good fight, but mass murderers and orphanages blowing up? I’m just saying I’ve got some concerns at this point is all. Maybe it’s nothing. Any way, let me know if ASI needs anything else. I’m gonna kick back on the beach and get some relaxation in before something else comes down the pipeline. "
Grace smiles. “Thanks, Granger. Good work out there.”
As Granger gets up to leave Grace puts her hand on his and says “As a friend though, be careful who you share those concerns with. There’s others that feel the same way, but there are those who won’t like that line of thought. Just try and relax and enjoy the beach, friend.”
Granger nods appreciatively and heads off to do some much needed thinking.