After her ordeal, Helouise Havershaum was medicated to a sleeping, peaceful state. Truc and Jason figured this was as good a time as any to relocate and figure out next steps, so they returned to Havershaum Estate and reunited with Emilia and Terry.
They arrived after Terry gave Helouise some gun safety tips, and she was absorbed in doing a Tarot reading. While the house staff had not seen her use her fortunetelling skills, they knew the family was a bunch of occult weirdoes, into seances and all sorts of other unsavory practices. It was not a surprise that the wealthy couple’s daughter was also into strange practices.
They discussed the usefulness of an occult weirdo for the current troubles. They remembered the oneriest (dream expert) Hodgekins, who they first met investigating Gangplank. Emilia also knew Dr. Wetly, another divination specialist who taught her to read entrails. (When asked what he was a doctor of, he would reply “necromancy.”) He had a place in Irvine.
Terry called him up on the phone, but talked to a young man named Givens, who agreed to a meeting but only with Terry. After a brief discussion with the group, they realized they needed to all be there; Terry called him back, and Givens budged to allow the medical doctor (he was oddly keen to have the doctor come) but no one else.
They all mounted up in the reserve reinforced SUV and headed to his Downtown penthouse. Truc and Emilia waited in the hall as Terry and Jason headed inside. They met Givens, a nervous fellow, then saw the problem–Hodgekins was unconscious on the dream couch in its protections. And he had been for three days.
As Jason considered the care that Givens was taking of the unconscious dreamer, including detailed instructions with legal coverage signed off on by Hodgekins before the dive, he encouraged the young caregiver to pull out the EEG machine so he could take some readings. (Of COURSE Hodgekins had an EEG machine on site.)
Terry looked through the dreamer’s library, noting the chained books and the cage with the more dangerous books at the end. The whole library was behind a secret door, Givens let him in. He looked for a book that might help. Noticing that Hodgekins had painted another protective circle around the ones inlaid in the floor, he took pictures of it and found something like it in a book; it appeared to be Assyrian, but he couldn’t make any headway with it.
Hodgekins appeared to be in a state unlike a dream or a coma; even adrenaline to the heart, administered by Givens, had not roused him. So, according to the instructions, it was time to keep Hodgekins’ body hydrated and fed through the IV, and take readings twice a day, but let him fight his way back as long as there appeared to be hope. Givens had already been through various smudgings, acupuncture, chemical treatments, and other steps detailed in the instructions; his resourcefulness was spent. He had Gangplank with him, and was prepared to use it to go after Hodgekins, but he had been forbidden to do so; Hodgekins believed it was too dangerous.
Waking the Sleeper
At that point Terry insisted he needed the rest of his team. Givens grudgingly agreed to consider it, and peeked out the door to read their auras. He liked what he saw with Emilia, so she and Truc were allowed in.
Emilia got to work on figuring out what the circle was supposed to do. The notes in the text indicated it was to protect against “bane fomori.” Fomori tie back to Irish folklore as possibly headless giants that wrestle heroes, and Hebrew folklore, and appear to be bad news. The Assyrian symbols were to protect against drought, blight, and pestilence for crops and for fertility of people.
Truc probed the apartment generally, finding that most of it was tucked away behind secret panels. He found a shrine with disturbing statuary of Vishnu and Shiva involved in tectonic levels of creation and destruction as a cyclical (and sexual) dance, and many other mini-shrines and small boxes designed to protect dreams of their owners. The inside door had over 60 pigeonholes each with a badge on it from the Grifton Police Department; one of them was Terry’s former badge!
Terry broke the wax seal and opened that one, finding one of his toothbrushes, a copy of his police record summary annotated with lots of weird symbols, and a little cloth bag.
Meanwhile Jason initiated feeding sugar water to the sleeper to try and wake up the digestive system, helping to process the Gangplank out faster.
Hodgekins abruptly sat up, and awkwardly pulled the electrodes off. Moving stiffly and strangely as though not accustomed to his shape, he got up and tried to approach them; the painted circle on the floor stopped him like a mime’s invisible wall. He tried to pull the bench up out of the floor, but didn’t immediately succeed. He sat on the bed and let out a strange passionless bawl.
Givens reacted to this by kneeling, pressing a prayer ribbon of some sort to his forehead, and mumbling. The others found this turn of events unsettling. Givens recovered his cool, and got the red leather book–the book with instructions for what to do if it looked like Hodgekins was no longer master of his body. If it looked like Hodgekins wasn’t coming home. The thing did twitch, and hiss something like speech. “I smell a Havershaum,” it whispered.
Before Hodgekins could be euthanized by his assistant, Terry asked for the book with the protective circle. Givens freed it from the chain library and gave it to them as a parting gift.
Givens fetched a pistol shotgun with “enchanted” dragon’s breath ammunition. Feeling serious nerves, Truc took Emilia out to the car, but Terry and Jason just had to see how it turned out. The shotgun round incinerated Hodgekins’ body and the couch and the inlaid protection circles, making a shallow melted crater. Then it was done.
A moment later, three or four phones started ringing in the kitchen. That’s when Terry and Jason retreated.
The day had been long, and there was no change reported in Helouise’s condition. Jason ordered an EEG machine to be added to the battery of monitor tests for Helouise, which would be figured out the next day.
Terry got a call from Ty, who wanted to meet him down in the cafeteria. While the bodyguards and Emilia ate up in the room, Terry and Jason went to the cafeteria. Ty shooed Jason off; he was plainclothes, and had secrets for Terry.
Ty told him that the downed team of shooters that tried to abduct Helouise Havershaum were a mercenary team rented from the Network. A job like this cost $1.5 million, paid in cash–nonsequential $20 bills. Ty gave him a folder that had the Network handler who handled the transaction; if Terry wanted to know who sent the team, he’d have to get that information from a powerful criminal in a very organized syndicate.
Emilia went home to Havershaum Estate. Terry and Truc went along, to help her feel safer, and were given places to sleep in the mansion. Jason returned to the Tyriex Manor for a good night’s sleep.
Terry and Emilia slept fine, but Truc and Jason had nightmares.
Truc dreamed he was in the Sears ruin on the balcony, escaping monsters he could not see. He jumped off the balcony, and his fall was guided; he landed next to the chuck hole in the basement, but it was walled off in concrete. The walls ground closer around him, and a bright green light flared up out of the hole– Then he woke, sweaty and dull and strange.
Jason dreamed he was in a featureless plain with Hodgekins’ body, but as he took the EEG reading it turned into threads, and the machine turned into a mechanized spider-thing, and it was bundling him up as Hodgekins rose and tore open his body, which was a silky Iron Maiden, and Jason was stuffed into it– and he woke, thrashing in his sheet, gasping for breath. The next morning he did plenty of meditation and katas to clear out that alien tingle and be alone in his body.
They met at the hospital, where Helouise was exhausted but awake. She made Jason promise to keep her awake by any means necessary until she gave him permission to let her sleep. She also told Truc that it had been a brutal struggle the night before, and the thing that pursued her actually got her out of her body. But she learned, at the same time he did, that he could not enter her form without being physically present. “They’ll try again,” she whispered. She got her silver hatpin, and jabbed anyone who came close enough; she believed the silver would cause a burning reaction in anyone who was not what they appeared to be. She also used its point to help herself stay awake.
Jason ramrodded through doctor’s orders for a drug the military uses to keep troops awake for days, in addition to the EEG machine. He went crushing through the bureaucracy on behalf of his wealthy client.
Truc guarded the room as Emilia tried to use a sharpie marker to draw the protective circle around the bed. The first effort was a smeary disaster, so they moved the bed to the other side of the room. This time Terry helped, holding the book for her, and she got a very serviceable rendition to protect her mother.
Protections were about as good as they could get as lunchtime approached. Time to figure out next moves.