The Story

The investigators were each awakened by an earthquake at 3:47 in the morning. It lasted a few moments, and after some nervousness each went back to bed.

Some seven hours later, at about 11:00 a.m., Investigator Harley Warren, a forensic anthropologist, is notified that mummified human remains have been discovered in the Mojave Desert, apparently brought to the surface by the earthquake. He is assigned by the San Bernardino County Coroner’s office to go to the scene and investigate. He is informed that a helicopter is waiting for him at the Van Nuys airport, and that he will be escorted by an LA County Sheriff’s homicide detective. (San Bernardino County personnel are all too busy dealing with other consequences of the earthquake, he's told.)

Meanwhile, homicide detective Anderson Mills (Game 62, The Call), is ordered by his boss to report to the airport and escort a forensic anthropologist to the desert. His boss tells him that there is a report of a symbol drawn in blood at the scene where the body was found. Mills calls FBI Agent Jillian Crowe, with whom he was worked before (Game 62), and invites her to come along, since both previously worked a case involving a symbol drawn in blood.

The Investigators all meet at the Van Nuys airport, where a helpful coordinator gets them situated. They pile into the helicopter, and lift off for the 45 minute flight out to the middle of nowhere.

Arriving at last over the town of Lucerne Valley, they see a giant symbol on the floor of a dry lakebed. Even from the air its huge size is surprising: it’s about 300 yards long, and cars parked nearby are tiny dots. They ask the pilot to circle the site while they take photographs, then land on the desert floor a safe distance from the symbol.

Getting out of the chopper, they are greeted by the local sheriff, Floyd Tidwell, whose SUV is parked near the symbol. He greets the investigators and walks with them over to where the mummified remains are located. They are still half buried in a crevice created by the earthquake, directly in the center of the smaller of the two circles contained in the giant symbol. As they walk toward the body, the Investigators notice that there are dead snakes covering the ground. Sheriff Tidwell has no explanation for any of it. He says he was notified about the body by two seismologists who had come to the area studying the earthquake.

The Investigators get to work. Harley Warren climbs down into the crevice and begins exhuming the body. Meanwhile, Mills and Crowe question a young female seismologist, Ellen Emerson, who found the body while making measurements of the local surface rupture. They also question two other locals who have stopped by to rubberneck. They report having heard strange sounds after the earthquake: a strange whispering or whistling kind of noise. One guy says it sounded like a jet plane passing close overhead. Another says it sounded more like a distant train. It gave them both the creeps. Ellen Emerson says she has been hearing sounds too, but is pretty sure it’s just the wind. (It is extremely windy out on the desert.)

Mills gathers specimens of a few of the dead snakes, and examines the giant symbol more closely. It is indeed made of blood. The blood seems to be seeping up out of the ground. He collects samples of the bloody dirt.

Warren discovers that the mummified body is clutching a small statue in its right hand. He is also surprised to discover that the right eye is glass. He digs the body out and they lift it out of the crevice.

After spending about an hour and a half at the site, the investigators bag the remains and other evidence, take names and numbers from witnesses, hand out their business cards, and get back on their helicopter and fly back to LA.

The LASD and FBI crime labs spend a week or two analyzing evidence found at the scene, and Harley Warren begins his own forensic analysis of the mummified body. Meanwhile, Agent Crowe attempts repeatedly to contact seismologist Ellen Emerson to get more detailed information about the earthquake. From watching the news, the Investigators learn that it was a major quake, killing over 200 people. Had it been centered closer to Los Angeles it would have been an epic catastrophe. Ellen Emerson and her colleagues at CalTech are swamped with work, and she never returns Agent Crowe’s phone calls.

A couple of weeks have passed, when the Investigators get word that there has been an incident at the CalTech seismology lab. Ellen Emerson has gone berserk and attacked a colleague with a large wrench, putting him into a coma. She then fled to her own apartment and committed suicide.

Det. Mills uses his contacts with Pasadena police to get details of the incident, and Warren uses his influence to see her autopsy report. After attacking her coworker, she went to her apartment and destroyed every electrical appliance and device she owned. She then struck herself in the head seven times with a hammer, and finally rammed a screwdriver into her own ear so hard that she scraped the interior of her skull on the other side of her head.

The investigators go to the seismology lab at CalTech to interview Ellen’s coworkers. They meet Tom Lundahl and Bob Guptill, both of whom are deeply traumatized by the events. Lundahl is the lab manager, and he describes the earthquake to the investigators, showing them the seismograph tracings of the event, along with maps and other photos of the damage, and several of the standard kinds of quake models used in analysis. >CLICK HERE TO SEE QUAKE DATA< In a number of the diagrams the Investigators think they see echoes of the same pattern which appeared in blood on the desert floor. One of them appears to be well over five miles long, and underground. He cannot explain the bloody symbol in the desert itself, referring to it as “an anomalous surface rupture.” He says that Ellen had been spending all of her time trying to account for it. They look at files on Ellen’s computer, and find one large encrypted file which they cannot open. Lundahl agrees to try to access it for them. They also find scribbled notes hidden under her computer which show repeated crude drawings of the giant symbol seen in blood on the desert floor.

Agent Crowe notices that Guptill seems extremely agitated, and takes him aside for a private talk. He tells her that Ellen complained of hearing strange noises, whistling or whispering, everywhere she went. It was driving her crazy, he said, and she was obsessed with it. He said she became obsessed with the strange surface rupture in the desert. He confesses that since Ellen’s rampage he too has been hearing strange whistling noises, but he admits that he’s surrounded by scientific equipment all the time and that might explain it. The investigators leave the seismology lab with the feeling that there was something unnatural about the earthquake.

Warren has been performing a full autopsy on the mummified remains from the desert, and consults with several peers via the internet. He also performs a high-tech procedure of his own devising called the Cusp Refulgent Enamel Warren-Katzenbaum Ultraviolet Tropism analysis, which helps him pinpoint the age of the deceased.

He communicates the following findings to his fellow investigators:

Deceased is male Caucasian, 33 years old.
Red hair, probably hazel eyes.
Five feet, eleven and a half inches tall, weighing 190-200 lbs.
Tattoo on left pectoral near heart depicting Egyptian “Eye of Ra” design.
Right eye is prosthetic. Eye identified as manufactured by the Steinhilber company, a German firm which went out of business during WWII. Type of glass eye indicates deceased died sometime between 1914 and 1942.
Left hand, right leg, and left leg below the knee all missing: loss appears to be postmortem, and may have been caused by the earthquake.
Right side of face scarred from shotgun wound: evidence of surgical restoration and healing indicates wound inflicted some years prior to death.
The nasal passages, trachea and lungs are filled with dirt, indicating that dirt was inhaled. There is also dirt present in the esophagus. The dirt found in the lungs and trachea contains no trace of the bacteria, insects, plant material or other microfauna typical of dirt down to a depth of about 8 feet. The dirt found in the lungs is not of the same type as that found at the surface of the Lucerne Lake bed. Suggests that victim was buried alive.
Body was subjected to intense electrical and/or magnetic fields.

Armed with this detailed information, Detective Mills begins to search the files for cases from the appropriate time period. After consulting with a retired colleague in Florida, he finds a steel box in an old evidence storage locker containing files and other material from an unsolved murder/missing persons investigation in 1931. Using photos and a fingerprint card from the file, the Investigators conclusively identify the mummified remains as those of a man named Jasper Dawes Titan, who vanished under mysterious circumstances in 1932.

Police paperwork in the evidence box indicates that Titan was a suspect in the murder of a Los Angeles art collector named George Wilshire, and the theft of an Egyptian statue that had belonged to him. Police reports of the murder show that Wilshire was both shot and stabbed repeatedly in the chest with an ancient Egyptian knife. Other police paperwork and crime scene photos show that Titan was last seen fleeing from two other murders, and had a record of involvement in occult crimes and numerous minor traffic accidents.

The box also contains several yellowed newspaper clippings, which tell the story of what happened in great detail.

The first one, dated December 9, 1931, says, in part:

George Wilshire Murdered!
Egyptian Art Object Stolen

Thieves Caught in the Act
Ancient Statue the Prize

George Wilshire, noted Los Angeles businessman, was murdered in his home last night by burglars when he caught them in the act of robbing him of his collection of Egyptian antiquities. The bandits escaped into the night, and police have begun a city-wide manhunt for the killers.
The burglars took with them a small Egyptian statue from Mr. Wilshire's collection, which is housed, in part, in his home. The statue is described as a terra cotta figurine of about seven inches in height, depicting a baboon. It is decorated with the hieroglyphic writing of ancient Egypt. The statue is said to be more than four thousand years old and of an extremely rare type. It is one of the treasures of Mr. Wilshire's collection....

A front-page clipping with a banner headline from December 21, 1931, says:

Throat Slashed in Canyon Hideaway
Policeman Killed During Raid as Gun-Fire is Exchanged
RELIGIOUS CULT BLAMED
Cult Leader is Shot by Police, Escapes Into Mountains
Three Are Dead, One Wounded
Connection to Wilshire Murder Case Is Seen

One heroic police officer is dead and another wounded today after an armed clash with a small gang of believers in an Egyptian religious cult. Two of the cultists are dead; one as a result of a savagely slashed throat. A third is now in police custody, but the cult’s leader has escaped into the Santa Monica mountains north of Pacific Palisades. Police with trained scent dogs are searching the area, and say that the fugitive was wounded by police gun-fire and cannot run for long.
Los Angeles police Detective Simon Kent and officer Edward Ames, following a lead in the murder of Los Angeles art collector George Wilshire two weeks ago, investigated strange lights and noises coming from a house tucked away in Solstice Canyon, north of Pacific Palisades. The house, remotely located in the canyon well north of the beach communities of Santa Monica, was the suspected refuge of members of an Egyptian religious cult.
The brave officers were watching the house when they heard the sound of voices speaking in a foreign tongue, and heard a woman scream. Fearing the worst, they burst into the house. There they beheld a most gruesome scene. Three cultists stood over the body of a woman. The lead cultist, wearing blue and yellow robes, held a sword in his hand. The woman’s throat had been slashed, and her life’s blood was draining away. The cultists were using the blood to make strange patterns on the concrete floor, as smoke from a nearby censer filled the room.
The policemen ordered the cultists to drop their weapons and step away from the bleeding woman. Instead, one of them pulled out guns and began to fire. The cultists were armed with a pistol and a Thompson machine gun, and police officer Edward Ames was killed after firing once at his attacker. Detective Kent drew his gun and shot the attacking cultist for a second time, killing him.
Then the leader of the cultists fired at Detective Kent, wounding him in the right shoulder. But Kent fired back, and believes that he hit the man in the stomach. The wounded cultist snatched up some of his religious paraphernalia and fled from the house into the surrounding woods.
Detective Kent attempted to chase the fugitive for a few moments, but then returned to the house to attend to his fallen comrade and the throat slashing victim. Both were already beyond help.
Kent and Ames had called for assistance on their police radio before entering the house, and shortly thereafter reinforcements arrived. While some officers began the search for the escaped leader, others took the remaining cultist, a woman, into custody. She continued to shout at Detective Kent, apparently angry that he had interrupted the cult’s horrible ceremony.
The female cultist whose throat was cut was identified as Miss Roxy Ross, of 3224 Hamilton Way, Los Angeles. Los Angeles Captain of police detectives Martin Spindle said that Miss Ross was known to police as having been involved with cult activities for a number of years. She had suffered a stab wound in a previous cult ritual in 1928, and was connected with an Arabian cultist named Faraz Al-Hazrad killed by police last year after a similar incident.
“We have been keeping an eye on this group for some time,” said Captain Spindle. The cult group was suspected of complicity in the robbery and murder of Egyptian art collector George Wilshire early this month.
Detective Kent said that the item taken by the fleeing cult leader was the very same Egyptian statue stolen from Wilshire’s home in the early morning hours of May 2. It is now believed that the cultists wished to acquire this statue for the purpose of performing the very ritual which officers Kent and Ames interrupted. A fragment of Egyptian papyrus with hieroglyphic writing was found at the scene, bearing illustrations which seemed to depict the statue itself. Although the Wilshire statue is known to be an artifact of ancient Egypt approximately four thousand years old, the authenticity of the papyrus scroll has not yet been determined.
The cultist who fired the “tommy-gun” at Officer Ames was as yet unidentified.
The female cultist taken into custody is identified as Miss Melanie Forrester, of Denver, Colorado. She has been taken to the Los Angeles county jail pending formal charges.
The escaped leader of the cult is named as Jasper Dawes Titan, of Los Angeles. He is described by Detective Kent as being six feet tall, of heavy build, with reddish brown hair. His face is scarred on the right side. He was last seen wearing blue and yellow ceremonial robes. It is believed he has a gunshot wound to the stomach, and he should be considered extremely dangerous. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is instructed to notify police authorities at once.
Police continue to search the Solstice Canyon house and the woods surrounding it, and are confident that Titan will soon be captured.

A subsequent article dated December 29, 1931, says, in part:

Forrester Indicted in Canyon Cult Killings
She Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charges and is Held for Trial February 8
Crowd Hisses Prisoner
Hundreds Stand Outside Court House for Hours
Insanity Plea Now Ruled Out
Stiles for the Prosecution

Special to the Evening Express. December 29.—Melanie Forrester, age 29, of Denver, Colorado, was indicted today by an extraordinary grand jury and pleaded not guilty to a charge of first degree murder when she was arraigned this afternoon in Los Angeles County Superior Court, for the slaying of Miss Roxy Ross, age 37, in a cult ritual in Solstice Canyon on May 14. Miss Forrester was also indicted on a charge of accessory to first degree murder in the killing of police officer Edward Ames, age 34, in the same cult ritual, and pleaded not guilty also on this charge. The trial was set for February 8 by Judge Arthur W. Chapman. Feingold Cooperman, counsel for the defense, was allowed until January 5th to file special pleas in the case. Hearing on these pleas was set for January 12th. ...

A small item dated January 3, 1932, says, in part:

Increases Reward for Cult Killer

Lawyers for Mrs. George Wilshire announced today that the reward for information leading to the arrest of Jasper Dawes Titan and the recovery of the Egyptian statue stolen from the Wilshire home has been increased to $25,000.
Michael Salamon, Esq., attorney for the Wilshire family, released a statement to the press today, naming the increase. Mrs. Wilshire herself was not available for comment.

An extremely lengthy and detailed front-page article dated February 24, 1932, tells of the end of the case. It begins:

Canyon Cult Killer Convicted
Forrester Guilty as Murderer, Accessory
Jury Out Six Hours
Faces Death by Hanging
Cooperman Announces Plan to Appeal

Special to the Evening Express. February 24.— Melanie Forrester, the canyon cult killer, was convicted today of murder in the first degree in Los Angeles County court for the brutal slaying of Miss Roxy Ross on December 21 of last year. She was also convicted as an accessory to the murder of Police Officer Edward Ames. The jury deliberated for almost six hours before returning the verdicts at 8:47 p.m. ...

In addition to the police files and the newspaper clippings, the evidence box contains a papyrus scroll with hieroglyphic writing. It features the same symbol seen on the desert floor in several places.

It also contains an old-fashioned Edison wax cylinder record. The recording is mentioned in one of the newspaper articles as having been used as evidence in the investigation.

After reading all the news articles and going over the other items from the evidence box, the Investigators feel they know who Titan was, but they’re still not sure what really happened to him, how his body ended up in the middle of the Mojave desert, or what the significance of the giant bleeding symbol is.

The FBI crime lab reports that the blood taken from the scene cannot be conclusively identified. It is not human. It contains both mammal and reptilian blood factors. It also reports there’s no identifiable cause of death for the many snakes that were found at the scene.

The Investigators are contacted by Bob Guptill, a colleague of Ellen Emerson’s from the seismology lab. He has succeeded in decrypting the large file from Ellen’s computer, and discovered it is a rupture animation of the Helendale earthquake, similar to ones the Investigators saw at the lab. They look at this animation, however, and see echoes once again of the mysterious symbol, but on a massive scale, many miles long.

The Investigators seek out an expert who can give them information about the terra cotta statue found clutched in Titan’s mummified hand, and the papyrus scroll found in the evidence box, both of which also feature the symbol. They contact an Egyptologist at USC named Marjorie Flanders, and make an appointment to meet her at her off-campus office.

Prior to the appointment, Crowe sends email to her FBI partner, who is recovering from an extended illness. She tells him about the statue and George Wilshire. He responds:

>...If that's the statue I think it is that's a major find. I've read a little about Wilshire. He was a major funder of Egyptian research from around WWI up until his death. I think he was murdered. The story I read puts him in possession of the only statue of the Blind Ape of Truth ever found. Which, if true, would make it one of the only actual artifacts of the reign of Nephren Ka. I expect there would be a number of people interested in obtaining it. I suggest you hang on to it. The actual existence of Nephren Ka has apparently never been proven: officially he's just a character mentioned in later Egyptian writings, as far as I know. But according to the legends, Nephren Ka had dozens of these statues made, and they were used in rituals to appease the Black Pharaoh. I've heard of Marjorie Flanders, I've heard that she knows her stuff. In fact I think she's something of a specialist in that whole early period. She ought to be able to give you very good information about it. In fact, I think she knows Randall Wilshire, and keeps connection with that family. Maybe they can tell you more about it. Thanks for keeping me updated. It's good to feel like I'm in action, even though I'm flat on my back. Best of luck, Fawkes.

Warren and Crowe meet Flanders, bringing the artifacts with them. Flanders confirms that they are genuine Egyptian antiquities, and seems somewhat intrigued. She says the papyrus scroll dates from the reign of Queen Nitocris, and is not as old as the statue itself. She says she can’t translate the hieroglyphics in detail right on the spot, and urges the Investigators to leave the items with her for extended study. She comments that the papyrus is in very delicate condition, and says it should be housed under museum conditions. She says it is a scroll outlining the steps in a magical ritual, the purpose of which is not immediately clear. There appear to be a number of worshippers pictured, including a woman with a bleeding throat wound and a man holding a small statue of an ape, offering it to a large figure of a black god with no face. When Crowe asks her about Nephren Ka, Flanders tries to discount him as a purely legendary character, and downplays his importance. She seems surprisingly uninformative, and the Investigators can’t tell if that’s because she’s being cagey, or is ignorant.

Since the artifacts are pieces of evidence in an ongoing murder investigation, the Investigators cannot leave them with Flanders. However, they agree to let her photograph and study them further in the LA County evidence vault at a later time. She agrees in exchange to prepare a complete translation of the text of the scroll for the Investigators.

As they’re sitting in her office, Warren and Crowe begin to hear strange whistling noises. Flanders doesn’t hear them. She says there might be a janitor in the building somewhere. The investigators search the building for the source of the noise, venturing into a dark empty attached garage, but they find nothing. The continue to hear the noises however, including a strange whispering. Crowe is somewhat spooked by the encounter, but Warren explains away the noise as having come from the air conditioner or something.

After several unsuccessful attempts to find an antique phonograph on which to play the old-fashioned cylinder they found in the evidence box, the Investigators finally locate a very strange collector named Ralph Bunch. Going to Bunch’s house, they’re somewhat surprised to find that Ralph’s a woman. She has a paranoid conspiracy documentary program playing on TV, and is working on a painting which appears to be atrociously bad. But she has an antique phonograph, and after some negotiation is willing to let them use it. They start up the cylinder.

For just over a minute it plays music: a scratchy vintage jazz tune in which someone is singing a strange song about a man who was not as dead as he seemed to be. Suddenly, right in the middle of the lyrics, there is a harsh scratch on the record, followed by the sound of a man’s voice speaking in a foreign language. None of the Investigators recognizes it, although the man is enunciating clearly.

Ralph Bunch doesn’t recognize the strange language either, but she does recognize the song. It’s a jazz tune from the 1920s called “Old Man Mose Ain’t Dead.” She happens to have a CD of old jazz music which contains the complete song. She puts it on the CD player and they listen. They also listen to another song on the same CD called “Mysterious Mose,” about the same character. This song tells the story of the murder of an old man named Mose, and how he reappears as a whistling ghost. The lyrics warn that if you pass a cemetery or abandoned cellar or other spooky place and hear whistling, that’s Mysterious Mose. The lyrics of “Old Man Mose Ain’t Dead” say that Mose isn’t dead at all. “Things aren’t dead until they die,” says the song, and Mose is going to come back for revenge.

After repeated listenings to the songs and the antique cylinder, Crowe offers to buy the phonograph from Ralph Bunch. She agrees, and the Investigators happily leave the strange woman’s apartment with their acquisition.

Later, Crowe brings the antique phonograph and cylinder to colleagues at the FBI crime lab. A few days later she gets the following report via e-mail:

> To: SA Crowe
> From: Tillinghast
> Re: Wax cylinder recording
>
> ...it was possible to shave down the grooves on a previously recorded wax cylinder and use it again. That's what's happened here. Your guy must have recorded the music first, then shaved off 45 seconds at the end and recorded his voice over it. It's a weird song, but he must have liked it for some reason. But then again, he seems to have been a weird guy. We have no idea what he's saying, and the transcript below is purely phonetic.
>
> The player you brought over didn't go all the way to the end of the cylinder, but by monkeying around with it we got all the way to the end. Here's a transcript of the recording. Best of luck. No rush about coming back to collect your player: we're having fun with it.
>
> Tillinghast
>
> [music]
> Listen to me, are you listening
> Listen to me, are you listening
> I’ve just found out something new
> Something of import to you
> Something you won’t think is true
> Listen to me, will you
> [music]
> Once there lived an old man in a log hut
> And it seems that someone said he died
> -Kicked the bucket
> -Kicked the bucket
> I found out it’s just an idle rumor
> Someone pulled a bloomer
> Fact is someone lied
> Now Mose ain’t dead
> -No no
> That’s what I
> [scratch]
> re dee ha tee ah ta en heck er
> re dee ha tee ah ta en heck er
> heked sesh em deppet ra moot ten
> sedem sesh pen en pe tah
> wah ha wee wah ha wee ah oo ah ha
> wah ha wee wah ha wee ah oo ah ha
> shemma shay yeet net djehuty
> ee-oo dawb eem ef
> wah ha wee wah ha wee ah oo ah ha
> neb djer djed ef
> wah ha wee wah ha wee ah oo ah ha
> shemma shay yeet net nie arlat hotep
> ee ya ee ya nie arlat hotep
> ahnk djet
> ahnk udja seneb
> neter neter nie arlat hotep
> men heperu ra nie arlat hotep
> hekem sesh kee sehker

The Investigators learn through Mills’ colleagues at LA County that Marjorie Flanders has visited the evidence vault and photographed and studied the papyrus scroll and the statue. She even told evidence technicians that the objects should be given to museum personnel for safe keeping, to no avail. It’s reported that she was accompanied by a tall, dark-haired man who seemed quite interested in both items. Strangely, however, she has not answered the Investigators’ phone calls requesting a progress report, and her coworkers report she’s been missing from work for the last few days.

Trying to find her own information, Crowe goes to the library and finds the June, 1927 issue of "The Archaeologist", a professional scientific journal. In the "Field Notes" section there is a short article entitled "Wilshire Party Uncovers Shrine." There's a small photo of some guys standing around some stuff, and on the pile she spots what does appear to be the statue recently found. The article tells of the discovery by archeologist Barrington Caine of a small mastaba just south of the southern necropolis at Meidum. Caine, sponsored by George Wilshire, was exploring the land to the south of the southern necropolis at Meidum and found a relatively undisturbed mastaba. There was no occupant: it seemed to be a storeroom for goods. It had been partly pillaged, but some small items were left behind. The site is definitely dated as coming from the late Third Dynasty. Among the items recovered were jars, household goods, a beautiful model of a chariot with gold and gems, and a small shrine featuring a statue of a baboon.

Meanwhile, unknown to the other Investigators, Dr. Warren determines that the law firm mentioned in one of the old newspaper clippings, Salamon & Reed, is still in business. Now called Salamon/Reed & Associates, he finds the firm still represents the Wilshire family. Warren surreptitiously contacts the law firm and inquires whether the $25,000 reward for information in the murder of George Wilshire is still available. He gets the following response a few days later:

Salamon/Reed & Associates

Dear Dr. Warren;

Thank you very much for your call of 8 December. Needless to say, it took us all very much by surprise. The Wilshire family long since gave up hope that there would be any development in the case of George Wilshire's murder.

However, the family is pleased to know that such an able investigator as yourself is now on the job.

Although the reward offered back in 1932 was officially withdrawn in 1938, Mr. Randall Wilshire is prepared to reinstate it under certain conditions. Since it now seems impossible that any suspect will be brought to justice in the case of his great-grandfather's murder, Mr. Wilshire's primary concern is the recovery of the stolen statue.

If you have information concerning its whereabouts, we would be pleased to enter into formal talks with you.

Cordially,
Herman Winesap, Esq.
Partner, Salamon/Reed & Assoc.

Warren writes back:

Dear Mr. Winesap,

Thank you for your prompt response. Yes, in the course of my investigation of Jasper Dawes Titan, I have seen and actually handled an Egyptian-styled statue of a baboon which seems to fit the description of a similar piece stolen from Mr. Wilshire in 1931. As the suspect in the murder, Mr. Titan, has been deceased for more than 60 years, I do not anticipate justice being served in Mr. Wilshire's case, however, perhaps knowledge of the perpetrator's fate will bring peace and closure to the minds of his descendants.

I would be happy to meet with your client to discuss the matter further. Please feel free to have either you or your client call me at 818. 555. 0644.

Very truly yours,
Harley Warren, III, Ph.D.

Realizing the grossly unethical nature of his overture, Warren decides to hire a lawyer to conduct further negotiations with Salamon/Reed. He continues to deal with Winesap and the Wilshire family in secret, through his attorney Jacqueline Meeme.

Meanwhile, Warren and the other Investigators are continuing to hear strange whistling noises they can’t explain with increasing frequency.

Following every available lead, they go to the site where the Solstice Canyon murders occurred in 1931, the place where Jasper Titan was last seen alive. Solstice Canyon is a secluded spot up the coast a few miles from Malibu, and is now a park. The old road up the canyon has been converted into a hiking trail, and, leaving their cars at the foot of the canyon, they walk for about a half an hour up to the location of the old Twobears house.

There’s nothing left of the house but overgrown ruins, perched beside a lovely waterfall. It’s obvious the house was beautiful in its day. The Investigators hear loud whistling. Warren explains it away as “the wind,” or “the sound of the waterfall.” He takes out a digital camera fitted with special lighting instruments, and a spray bottle of a chemical called luminol, which creates a chemical reaction with certain organic chemicals. Law enforcement professionals use luminol to detect trace amounts of blood: it causes blood to fluoresce in the presence of ultraviolet light. Warren and Mills spray the area with the luminol, then shine a handheld ultraviolet light on the building and rock surfaces. Suddenly, where before they could see nothing, the symbol from the desert floor glows on the surface of the rock. Warren snaps lots of pictures with his special digital camera.

As they are examining the site, looking for additional glowing symbols, they suddenly hear the whistling become extremely loud. Suddenly, a strange figure appears to them. It is a man with no face, his skin blacker than ink. It appears on some rocks above the ruined house, and makes no noise. Warren at first does not see it, but Mills and Crowe do, and they rush through some trees up the hillside in an attempt to get a better look. They are separated in the woods. Mills gets close enough to touch the thing, and when he does so he falls unconscious. Crowe runs through the woods shouting for him to answer, but he does not. Meanwhile, Warren is alarmed down in the ruins of the house. He turns around and is confronted up close by the faceless black man. It reaches out for him, and he too falls unconscious. Crowe finds Mills and revives him, and together they return to the ruins and find and revive Warren. The Black Man is gone. After the encounter, when the ultraviolet light happens to shine on their skin, each notices that the symbol from the desert floor now appears somewhere on his or her body.

Crowe and Mills, with previous experience in occult cases, are convinced that something supernatural is going on. Warren prefers to believe that he suffered some kind of stress-related hallucination.

Later, when his special ultra-violet photos come back from processing, Warren is shocked by what they reveal. The desert symbol appears repeatedly, as do other Egyptian symbols found on the papyrus scroll. The ruins of a door frame bear markings which look very similar to the door pictured on the papyrus, in which the faceless black god is shown standing.

Getting a translation of the papyrus now seems more important than ever, but Marjorie Flanders has not returned any of the Investigators’ phone calls, and her coworkers report that she has taken a leave of absence from work. The Investigators suspect that she is up to something fishy. They know that she’s a friend of Randall Wilshire, the great-grandson of George Wilshire, and Warren knows that Wilshire has been most eager to get the statue back. (In fact, he knows from his lawyer that Wilshire has offered to increase the reward to $150,000, although he continues to keep that secret from his fellow Investigators.) They are beginning to suspect that Flanders and Wilshire know more than they are saying, and may be planning some kind of occult activity. Crowe is especially suspicious of Wilshire. Mills sends uniformed cops around to check out Flanders’ home, and they report seeing a woman meeting Flanders’ description getting into a white Lexus being driven by a dark-haired man. Tracing the license number reveals that the car is owned by Randall Wilshire.

So the Investigators turn to a different Egyptologist for information, and meet with Timothy Spiggot-Linden. He looks over the statue and papyrus and confirms that they are genuine. He says that the papyrus describes a spell for appeasing the faceless god, and says that the mysterious symbol which they’ve been seeing everywhere is the seal or secret “True Name” of the god. Translating some other characters, he says the god’s common name seems to be Nyarlathotep, but that he has many other names and many forms. The spell of appeasement involves ritual purification with incense and a bath of palm wine and spices, after which prayers are said. Then the priest of Nyarlathotep cuts the throat of a willing victim, “the chosen one,” and draws the symbol of Nyarlathotep in blood. Saying more prayers, the priest then offers up the statue of the Blind Ape of Truth, in response to which a doorway to Tuat, the Egyptian underworld, opens, and the priest steps through the doorway to be united with Nyarlathotep. The doorway closes, and the priest does not return. The papyrus clearly shows the steps in the ritual, and Spiggot-Linden points out the drawings of the knife, the victim, the symbol drawn in blood, the burning torches, the priest offering the statue, and the doorway to the underworld where the faceless god waits.

Crowe is becoming increasingly suspicious of Flanders and Wilshire. Unaware that Warren has been in secret negotiations with him for weeks, she continues to try to reach Randall Wilshire, and finally gets through. She reports her conversation to Mills in the following e-mail:

Do you remember my theory that Flanders and Randall Wilshire may be cooperating and active in a cult similar to Titan's? Well, I spoke to Randall Wilshire today. He was cagey, but he admitted in his great grandfather, George, took an interest that exceeds that of a simple collector. He also implied that he, Randall, also took a similar interest. Randall wouldn't come right out and say what that greater interest was, but his level of defensiveness and evasiveness at my questions make me suspicious. It's a gut feeling, but you are a detective and you know to value your gut feelings.

Andersen, what if George Wilshire was not as innocent as he appears. What if he was a cultist; he was a rival to Jasper Dawes Titan. Now, what does it mean if his Grandson is following in his footsteps?

Do me a favor, can you get me Randall Wilshire's home address? I at least want it on file. Also, what is the word on Professor Flanders? Did a patrol car ever swing by? Do we know her where abouts?

What is the status of our statue and papyrus? Don't tell me where they are, just assure me that they are not still in the evidence locker and that you, or someone you trust, have contol over them.

I will call you tomorrow to discuss this further.

Jillian Crowe
Special Agent, FBI

Worried that Wilshire might try to get his hands on the statue, Mills arranges for a duplicate to be made, and personally hides the real one in the trunk of his car. Discussing all their leads and theories over dinner one night, the Investigators decide to try to find out if Melanie Forrester, convicted of the Solstice Canyon murders in 1932, is still alive. They learn that she was transferred to an institution in New York State in the early 1980s, and they call the hospital.

To their surprise, she is still alive. She’s 96 years old, and dying of cancer. Her physician, Dr. Jacob McCandless, tells them that she’s on pain medication which would make her impossible to interview, but when they insist that it’s important they speak with her, he reluctantly agrees to take her off the medication briefly. It will take a week before she’s able to answer any questions. There’s no way she can travel to California, and the Investigators know that their various bosses won’t authorize travel to New York, so it’s agreed that the interview will take place via videoconference.

During the week that they’re forced to wait before interviewing Forrester, each of the investigators pursues his or her own leads, and uses his or her own professional resources. None of them is particularly eager to accept the conclusions suggested by the evidence, and each wants to keep digging for more hard and fast information. Each is also getting pressure from his or her own boss to clear the case and move on.
>CLICK HERE TO SEE ANGRY INTERDEPARTMENTAL MEMOS.<
(Memos will open with Adobe Acrobat in a separate window.)

Each of them is also increasingly afflicted by the damn whistling noises and disturbing dreams. >CLICK HERE TO READ DISTURBING DREAMS<

Troubled by his dreams, Warren begins to have doubts about his shady dealings with Wilshire, and writes the following e-mail to his colleagues:

Crowe & Mills,

Is your Randall Wilshire theory just a hunch? Does he have any kind of
police record? Is there any evidence which suggests he could somehow be
involved in any of this? What exactly is the connection between Flanders
and Randall Wilshire? Do either of you have any information on where she
might have gone?

I'm also hoping for some clarification on the whole Forrester and her
doctor thing? Does the doctor really know Flanders? I'm confused.

Currently, I don't think I've seen anything which specifically suggests
that Titans cult or one like it is currently in business. In fact with
this whole Titan affair, I haven't seen evidence of any crimes since
1932.

I can't believe you and Mills do cases like this all the time. Its a
wonder you're not crazy.

Harley

As the Investigators continue to delay, wishing they could be more certain of their information, another disaster occurs. They see the following news item:

CAMPUS SHOOTINGS LEAVE FOUR DEAD
Tragedy strikes seismology lab a second time

Pasadena, Dec. 19 -- Four people at the California Institute of Technology are dead today after a laboratory worker opened fire on his colleagues with a handgun, then turned the weapon on himself. CalTech officials have expressed shock at the incident, and the campus is thrown into upheaval in the stressful finals week before the holiday vacation. It is the second such incident in recent weeks.

Pasadena police report that a technician from the CalTech seismology lab, Robert R. Guptill, 32, entered the lab at 4:30 this afternoon and drew an automatic pistol. Witnesses say that he began firing without warning, and screamed "he is coming." Coworkers in the lab ran for cover, as Guptill fired eight rounds. He then turned the gun on himself. Police report he died instantly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Also killed were Tom Lundahl, 38, the supervisor of the lab; Andrea Kominsky, 28, a data analyst; and Dr. Peter Martin, 44, a seismologist. One additional laboratory worker, Jim Sampson, was injured and is in good condition at Pasadena memorial hospital.

The seismology lab staff has been working around the clock on the Helendale earthquake since the morning of November 1, when the 7.3 shaker struck the desert south of Barstow. Two hundred and forty-three people were killed in the quake.

Less than two weeks ago, on December 6, another worker at the seismology lab was injured in a similar attack by a coworker. Graduate student Ellen Emerson attacked computer systems analyst Carlo Dalla with a wrench, beating him over the head. He subsequently died of his injuries in a Pasadena hospital. Emerson, age 28, killed herself shortly after the attack.

Although the seismology lab staff has been under tremendous pressure in the wake of the Helendale earthquake, CalTech officials say that the workload was in no way a factor in these incidents. Others have speculated that the combination of a high-stress workload and the pressures of the holiday season are to blame. Surviving coworkers of Emerson and Guptill are deeply shaken, and say that both complained of hearing strange noises in days prior to their deaths.

It’s clear that bad influences are at work, claiming more and more lives. The Investigators feel pressure from all sides to resolve the situation.

At last the night of the videoconference interview with Melanie Forrester arrives. The Investigators convene in a conference room in Studio City, and are connected to a conference room at the prison hospital where Forrester is incarcerated.

They first speak with Dr. McCandless, a brusque and ill-mannered man who lays down the ground rules for the interview. He reminds them that she’s 96, psychotic, and a convicted murderer. He warns them sternly that if their questioning makes her too agitated, he will terminate the interview. They agree.

Then Melanie is wheeled into view by an orderly. She is confused at first, not understanding that the people on the television can see her just as see can see them. But she quickly gets the hang of it and the Investigators interview her. She actually seems like a rather sweet, if befuddled, old woman, but McCandless and the orderly treat her very roughly anyway.

The Investigators ask her what she and her friends were doing in Solstice Canyon on the night of the murders. She tells them the story, which is very different from the way the events were reported in the newspapers at the time. She tells them that it was Simon Kent, the “heroic” police officer, who actually shot and killed Officer Ed Ames. She reveals that Simon Kent was a part of her group. They were not cultists, she says: they were trying to stop the evil Nyarlathotep by appeasing him, performing a spell which was meant to quiet him for a hundred years. J.D.Titan had been obsessed with stopping Nyarlathotep for years, ever since his face was disfigured in a previous encounter with the unholy entity. Roxy Ross was a willing participant in the ritual, who bravely agreed to give her life to stop Nyarlathotep. But she screamed when the sword cut her throat, and officer Ames, hearing the scream, burst into the place with his gun drawn. That’s when Simon Kent shot him, she said.

This news is like a bombshell to the Investigators, and they ask her to repeat it several times. When it finally sinks in, she goes on to tell how once Ames was dead, they had to complete the ritual anyway, since Roxy’s throat was already cut. J.D.Titan drew the symbol in blood on the floor, and the doorway to Tuat opened before them. J.D. stepped through, holding the statue, and the ritual was successfully completed: Nyarlathotep was appeased for 100 years, and Roxy and J.D. had paid the ultimate price.

But once the ritual was over, the survivors were left with a dead cop on the floor, and their plan quickly deteriorated. Melanie revealed that Simon Kent was supposed to dispose of Roxy’s body, and she and Sam Buchannan were to have fled Los Angeles. But with the dead cop on the floor, Kent lost his nerve, and suddenly he and Buchannan were realizing that each would try to blame the other for the shooting. They drew on each other, and Kent killed Sam Buchannan. Then Kent betrayed Melanie and arrested her, framing her for all the murders, pretending that J.D. had escaped into the woods, and claiming that he’d shot him.

The Investigators ask Melanie where they got the statue of the Blind Ape of Truth, and she tells them they had stolen it from George Wilshire. She says he was a cultist, who worshipped Nyarlathotep, and who would have brought evil down on mankind if given an opportunity. When Warren asks Melanie who killed George Wilshire, she tells them it was Simon Kent, but that it had not been intentional. They had planned to steal the statue, and it was just bad luck that he caught them in the act. But after Kent shot him, he realized that the bullet could be traced to a police weapon, so he hacked Wilshire’s chest open with a knife in an attempt to recover the bullet and destroy the evidence.

The Investigators ask Melanie what happened to J.D.Titan once he stepped through the door. She replies that he went into the underworld, the “underground.”

Warren draws the symbol on a piece of paper and holds it up to the camera, asking Melanie to identify it. She confirms that it is the symbol of Nyarlathotep, of all that is evil and chaotic.

Then Crowe asks Melanie if there is any advantage to doing the appeasement ritual before the hundred years is up. Melanie responds that it would be impossible to do the ritual without the Blind Ape of Truth. Crowe acknowledges that, but then, with admirable evasiveness, asks if one could perform it early, would there be any advantage? “What makes you think you could perform the ritual without the Blind Ape of Truth?” Melanie asks. Maybe if something had gone wrong, Melanie continues, then it would have to be performed at once. Mills asks her what could have gone wrong, and she says as long as J.D. was gone, and the Blind Ape of Truth was nowhere to be found, nothing could have gone wrong.

And that’s when Warren reveals to Melanie that the Blind Ape of Truth has been brought to the surface by the earthquake. This makes Melanie upset. Then Mills announces rather bluntly that J.D.’s dead body has also been brought to the surface by the earthquake. This makes Melanie very upset. Warren tries to smooth things over by saying J.D. is fine, but the damage has been done. Melanie becomes highly agitated, and tells the Investigators they must perform the ritual of appeasement immediately.

Dr. McCandless then steps in to terminate the interview, because Melanie is growing frantic. Even as he physically restrains her in her chair, she is shouting at the Investigators that they must do the ritual, they must find two willing human sacrifices, they must open the doorway to Tuat and someone must step through with the Blind Ape of Truth. Dr. McCandless manhandles Melanie, and pulls out a syringe with some kind of sedative and brutally injects her. He then holds her in a headlock while the drugs take effect, and begins to berate the Investigators for asking a lot of questions that couldn’t do anyone any good any more.

The Investigators are shocked and horrified to realize that the orderly has transformed into a creature with no face and skin as black as ink. He seems to be manipulating the doctor like a puppeteer, and it’s clear that McCandless is strangling Melanie, even while saying soothing words to her. McCandless even begins to sing a little song to calm her down. The Investigators recognize the tune as one they’ve recently heard: “Old Man Mose Ain’t Dead.” The Investigators shout at him to stop, but they are powerless to do anything but watch as Melanie’s eyes bug out and her face turns red. Then Dr. McCandless takes her head in both hands, and, with the Black Man looking on, snaps Melanie Forrester’s neck.

McCandless then walks slowly up to the video camera until he is just inches from it. “Poor Melanie,” he says. “Don’t you know nothing’s dead until it dies? You’ll see me again. Soon.”

And then suddenly the video connection goes dead.

Deeply shocked, the Investigators sit paralyzed for a few moments before trying desperately to connect again with the New York hospital. They finally get through on a regular phone line, only to learn that Dr. Jacob McCandless has just thrown himself out a fourth floor window and is dead. As is Melanie. The orderly is nowhere to be found.

In the wake of the horrifying conclusion to the interview, Warren finally comes clean with his fellow Investigators and tells them about his secret negotiations with Wilshire. They are surprisingly calm about it. They decide to use Warren’s negotiating position as a way of getting access to Wilshire and trying to determine if he’s an insane cultist like his great-grandfather was, or if he’s planning to perform the ritual of appeasement as described by Melanie. Warren makes an appointment to meet with Wilshire at Herman Winesap’s office.

On the night of December 21st, Harley Warren and Jillian Crowe go to the offices of Salamon/Reed & Associates in Santa Monica (Mills is running late). They are carrying the duplicate statue that Mills had made in Warren’s black coroner’s bag. They are met by Herman Winesap, who shows them into his office, where Randall Wilshire, a handsome dark-haired man in his early thirties, is waiting. There is tense negotiation. The Investigators try to fool Wilshire with the bogus statue but he sees the deception immediately. Wilshire wants the real statue handed over to him at once. Warren and Crowe say that it is evidence in an open case, and is not theirs to just give away. Winesap has left a huge wad of cash in plain sight on his desk, never directly offering a bribe but making it clear that one is available. Warren and Crowe attempt to determine what Wilshire’s intentions are, but his lawyer advises him not to reveal too much. There are plenty of tense words. In the end, Wilshire admits to them that he is planning to perform the spell of appeasement: essentially, and against his lawyer’s advice, he’s admitting that he plans to perform a murder/suicide. And he tells them that it must be done that very night, the winter solstice, for best effectiveness.

Warren’s cell phone rings, and Mills is on the line. Warren, Crowe, and Mills via telephone excuse themselves to discuss their next move in private. Meanwhile, Wilshire and his attorney agonize in the next room. (Unbeknownst to the Investigators, Wilshire is carrying a gun and is prepared to kill them in order to obtain the statue.) Crowe remains deeply distrustful of Wilshire, but she’s also not eager to perform the ritual herself. None of them is. They form a plan. In exchange for signed guarantees from Wilshire’s attorney that the Wilshire family will never pursue the matter in court, they will give the statue to Wilshire to perform the ritual, and they will leave the duplicate in the evidence vault so that their bosses never figure out what happened. They also agree to help dispose of the dead body which will be left behind. They learn what they already suspected to be true: Marjorie Flanders will be the “chosen one,” the victim whose throat will be cut in the ceremony. They agree to dispose of the body and make sure that the surviving Wilshires and Winesap are not prosecuted. Warren and Crowe go back inside, and present their proposal. After some discussion between themselves, Wilshire and Winesap agree. During all the back-and-forth, Harley Warren surreptitiously pockets the huge wad of cash sitting on Winesap’s desk. The Investigators agree to bring the real statue to Wilshire’s home in Brentwood later that night. In the meantime, both sides will draw up the paperwork to seal the deal.

A few hours later the three Investigators meet at Wilshire’s home in the posh suburb of Brentwood. Winesap is there to meet them. Mills presents him with a receipt from the evidence room, which Winesap signs. Then Mills hands over the real statue of the Blind Ape of Truth. The Investigators insist on being permitted to observe the ritual: they want to be ready to stop it in case it’s not the one they’re expecting. Winesap agrees. While Crowe remains lurking around the front of the house, ready to call for backup if needed, Warren and Mills go with Winesap into the backyard of the house.

There, in a hot tub, Randall Wilshire and Marjorie Flanders are soaking in a ritual bath of palm wine and spices. Incense is burning and torches flicker on the lawn. Both Wilshire and Flanders seem to be in a trance of some kind, and Winesap is obviously more than just their lawyer: he’s actively running the ritual. He speaks softly to Wilshire, who nods acknowledgment, and the ritual begins. As Warren and Mills watch from the sidelines, Winesap utters prayers in ancient Egyptian, and Marjorie Flanders steps out of the bath. Winesap dresses her in a red robe, and she kneels on the grass between flickering torches. After more incantations, Wilshire rises naked from the bath; Winesap dresses him in a white robe, and hands him a large knife. Wilshire stands behind Flanders, says some more prayers, and then slits Flanders’ throat, which gushes blood. Flanders falls to the ground, quivering, and Winesap reaches down and begins to draw the symbol of Nyarlathotep in her still-warm, spurting blood.

When the symbol is complete, Wilshire and Winesap say more prayers, and Wilshire holds up the Blind Ape of Truth. Suddenly, there in the torchlight, a faintly glowing door appears in midair, accompanied by mist and the appearance of several snakes. Wilshire is shaking in some kind ecstatic trance, while Winesap, obviously terrified, continues to chant in Egyptian. Then Wilshire, holding the statue, rushes toward the portal, which vanishes around him. He is gone. Herman Winesap staggers for a moment, then faints dead away on the lawn, next to Marjorie Flanders’ dead body.

Warren and Mills, dumbfounded by what they’ve just witnessed, suddenly see an opportunity. Seeing the lawyer lying unconscious and defenseless on the ground, they pick up the knife and put it next to his hand. Warren then pulls out his digital camera and takes photographs of the scene. The flash of the camera wakes Winesap up, and he quickly realizes what is going on. They summon Crowe from the front of the house, telling her it’s all over. Mills hauls out his handcuffs and arrests Winesap for the murder of Marjorie Flanders and Randall Wilshire. Like Simon Kent in 1931, the Investigators frame one of the participants to save themselves. As he is hauled away into the night, Winesap screams, “You fucking bastards! We had a deal!”