God, it’d been forever since I was last on a college campus. So much knowledge, education, sexy students, and at the big colleges all the really fun research equipment. You can afford the big toys when you get millions a year from alumni, I guess. I hadn’t been on a campus since that summer I broke into the UC Santa Cruz’s biomolecular science research labs and…well, you read the local papers, so no need to go into details, but I’ve been a little shy about campuses since.
No research labs this trip though, just the dorms where we dropped in on Jane’s roommate, Kimber…who was in tears. I don’t know what to do with crying co-eds, so I just stepped back and let Jimmy, Malthus, and Humphry Boo-gart take the lead. Through the tears we learned that Jane had a boyfriend that she was inseparable from, some guy named Brad, I think. Or, it was like he was inseparable from her as she never saw Brad without Jane. Meanwhile, Malthus’ sharp eyes caught a napkin with a number scrawled on it. He copied it while Scott gave Kimber his, just in case.
Tracing down that number was the obvious first step. We found a phone booth, Malthus chased off the jackass teen hanging out inside doing whatever jackass teens do, and Scott managed to find the name for the number in record time: Charles Petcher. Unfortunately, there was no address for this name, so Scott went with the direct approach and gave Charles “Brad” Petcher a call. He gets a hello, starts spewing a bunch of telemarketer claptrap, and promptly gets hung up on.
Ok, the number works, and someone’s home. That’s good. And I can cobble together a bunch of supplies to make a tracer that’ll get us an address. Malthus takes a moment to follow the jackass teen to pry some information out of him about Brad. Turns out the kid knew that Brad spent a lot of the time at the beach, but didn’t know why. Kid also had a severe fixation on penis jokes. This is why I’m convinced guys are all a little bit gay: whether it’s their own or someone else’s, guys are obsessed with dick.
In Odile land, Odile returned from whatever land she’d been trans-dimensionally vacationing in, reflected on how wonderful it was to be Odile, and then checked her answering machine. Amidst spam, screams, and sibling communiques, she got Jason’s message. She left him a message on his own machine, buzzed the club, argued about tips, and then got dressed to meet us at The Underworld.
At the Underworld we all convened and got plans in order. First, Allison. Scott collected her from the back room where she’d spent hours braiding and unbraiding her hair over and over and over again and arranged for her to stay in the safest of Odile’s spare rooms. A small step up, but a step up all the same.
I finished tinkering with my tracer and asked Donnie if I could use the club phone, buying a nice bottle of scotch – plus tip – for the trouble. She took the cash, handed over the scotch…and pointed to the payphone. Oh well, at least I bought some goodwill. I took a heavy swig from the bottle; looks like I bought the good stuff as well as goodwill.
I patched in the tracer, gave the phone number a buzz, and waited. It took nearly three dozen rings before someone answered. I didn’t bother with the phony sales pitch; I got a readout almost instantly and hung up. The address was out in the Richmond.
We saddled up and headed out…me stumbling a little bit because wow that really was the good stuff. Jimmy took a pit stop to drop Allison at Odile’s, reminding her to use the safe word – palomino – to keep the shadows at bay. Allison was thrilled to spend another chunk of time waiting around, but at least this time she would be able to go to the bathroom or lie out for a nap. Probably.
We pulled up to the address in an unfriendly neighborhood near the beach. The house was boarded up everywhere, but the door remained unblocked so we walked up to see who was home. Scott knocked on the door, and from inside we could hear weird, froglike noises.
Then a man opened the door. An ugly man. I mean, like UGLY ugly. Balding, eyes bulging, face and mouth too wide, fingers too long, too tall…
Scott asks if Brad is home. No. Does he live here? Yes. I want to talk to him. ….no. doorslam
Enter: Jimmy, stage right. He and Malthus conspire the best way to get into the house. Shockingly, they decide that breaking down the door is the best way. So they break down the door.
Unfortunately the homeowners had taken precious little care of their home, and physics being the funny little universal constant that it is complied with busting the door open…and simultaneously driving Malthus down through the rotted floorboards to wind up waist-deep in the porch.
Scott ran up to help and pulled Malthus out just int time for uggo to come lunging at them both. Scott, figuring Malthus could take it, decides to hide behind his demon shield. It was a good decision; the blow was just a scratch for Malthus, but it would’ve taken Scott’s head clean off. Jimmy, never able to resist a fracas, runs into the fray with a knee to the gut and Malthus lobbing his own sucker punch.
I chucked the whisky bottle at the creep’s head, but my head was still a bit muzzy from the pull I took, so my aim pulled to the left by mere inches sending the bottle down the hallway. Scott, picking up the cue from what I was trying to do (alcohol + Malthus^flame = win), scrambled after the bottle and wound up in the kitchen with an entire family of weird ugly people.
Back at the front door, creepy ugly man made that weird froglike sound we heard earlier and heard it answered from all parts of the house, including from the “family” in the kitchen. Evidently that sound translated into “run” as the entire house bolted out the back door, taking opportunistic attacks at anyone who got too close, but “retreat” clearly being the main objective. Scott, who had seven of them behind him wasn’t quite sure that this was their objective at first because why would he? A mob of creepy ugly people running after you gives the distinct impression of a chase. He flipped into a red tailed hawk on the fly (ha!) and took to the sky, safe from their reach.
Except they weren’t trying to reach Scott, they were trying to reach the ocean. One after one they dove into the brackish waters. Not a single one came back up.