Session 6 | New York | Hart Island

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The Bathtub of Evil

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Justin Case | NYPD Detective | 32 yrs | Djuro

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Ulla Bengtsson | Professor (Chemistry) Columbia Uni | 48 yrs | Berndt

Absent this session

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondant | 31 yrs | Martin

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Link to background stories and portraits


Hart Island

New York, Monday January 19th, 1925 | about 4 a.m

I could sleep for a thousand years…

After having raided the cult’s base below Ju Ju House, the PCs decide to retreat to the laundry to tend to their wounds and get some well deserved rest. The place includes a large basement area where they have put mattresses and basic survival gear. It’s not nice, cosy or warm, but it will keep them off the cult’s radar as well as the police’s…

Roadtrip

Around midday, they have some egg sandwiches and whiskey reinforced coffee to steady their nerves and then H.P, Ulla and Case takes Case’s car and drive through the snow-laden streets all the way out to the Bronx and City Island where they plan to visit a marina and charter a boat to get them to the restricted Hart Island. The ride takes about 2 hrs in the crappy weather.

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Winter in the Bronx

Getting someone willing to get them to the island is harder than anticipated. Several burly fishermen stop talking to them when they mention their destination, but eventually old Sam Hopkins, captain of the small fishing boat “Hopkins” agrees to take them there and back for a…shall we say…inappropriate amount of cash.

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Captain Sam Hopkins

“Garr… There are plenty o’risks with that. What about the ol’ missus if I should end up in jail, eh?” Capt. S. Hopkins

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The Hopkins in a happier time

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Aerial view of City Island (left) and Hart Island (right)

What they know about Hart Island is that it is a restricted area, run by the Department of Correction and that the small island (1.6 km long, 0.4 km wide) has been used as a massive potter’s field for many years. As of now, there is a Reformatory Prison for criminals deemed mentally unfit, drug addicts, aged, homeless and any combination thereof. The inmates work the burying detail, overseen by prison guards. However, the prison is under liquidation, moving over to the larger facility at Riker’s Island, and there are only about 50 prisoners left along with a skeleton crew of staff. The island also hold an abandoned mental asylum and on the south tip the eerie overgrown ruins of a never finished amusement park stretch skeletal against the grey sky.

After a short but salty sea voyage freezing outside the small boat’s cabin, the Hopkins arrives at the port facility of Hart Island. During the cruise, the PCs try to negotiate a deal with pipe-smoking Hopkins to pick them up and it is settled on three hours (approximately 3 p.m).

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Modern pic of the port. The guard shed was situated to the right of the road, about where the tree is in the pic.

Hopkins approaches the landing just near enough so that the passengers can jump ashore, then the boat leaves in a hurry.

Just after the landing is a grey wooden shed with an open door. A fat prison guard steps out. “Whoa there! This is restricted area for civilians!

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Officer White

Justin Case whips out Inspector Macceroni’s police badge, stolen from the corpse and bluffs the guard that they are on official police business, searching for a missing police officer, believed to be on the island, and asks if the guard has seen anything unusual in the past days. Officer White tells them that he heard strange sounds in the south part of the island a few nights ago, and that there are rumours among the prisoners of a huge winged bird that has flown over the island, but that is of course only superstitious rubbish. He did hear sounds however, which he thinks was smugglers or whatever. As he speaks, he glances back to his cosy shed with his newspaper, baloney sandwich and cuppa coffee, and waves the clearly demented PCs through.

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Player map of the island

The abandoned asylum

The players follow the gravel road along the west coastline, passing the prison proper. In the north they see people working in the “fields”, but the center and south part of the island is dead silent. After some 500 m they reach the old asylum, now overgrown with 60 years of foliage and covered in decades of dirt.

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Asylum exterior I

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Asylum exterior II

 The only sounds are of the leaves rustling in the wind. No animals are seen. After a scouting detour around the house, the PCs decide to enter via the main entrance. Weapons drawn, they open the half rotten doors and enter the decrepit building. Inside, all is chaos, as if someone suddenly decided to move out. The valuable items and equipment are gone but old rusty bedframes, battered desks and broken chairs are scattered everywhere.

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Asylum

The structure consist of an L-shaped building with central corridors, lined with many doors, some open, some closed. The first floor turns out to be mostly remains of offices, staff areas and various treatment rooms. Suddenly, a sound is heard from a room down the corridor. Ulla and Case enters the room, while H.P stands guard in the corridor, watching the rear.

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Corridors…

It turns out to be some kind of tiled water treatment room, complete with water hoses and a dirty bathtub with a tarp cover leaving space for the head (on the floor). Nothing can be heard in the room, except the flapping of the shredded curtains in the destroyed windows.

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Water treatment room

Ulla and Case does a grisly finding in the bathtub. A severed hand, covered in grime. It looks old, as if it has been broken off from a body in a grave or something. Both PCs go to fetch H.P but upon returning they notice that the hand is gone! Only a slimy trail going over the edge of the bathtub and towards the window can be seen.

Ulla runs over to the window and sticks her head out only to see the hand coming at her, running on the wall like some hideous spider! It jumps at her, grabbing her throat, jamming a finger up her nose.

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The Hand!

The investigator stumbles back, clawing at the thing and biting a finger off it, but it doesn’t release it’s grip. Case tries to help by trying to pry off the hand and punching it but to no avail. Ulla’s strength is ebbing out and her struggle gets feebler and weaker until she passes out on the tiles. Case finally manages to pry off the hand from her unmoving body, throwing it into a corner and shooting it to pieces with his gun.

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H.P looks down the corridor…

While the struggle is at hand (heh!), H.P hears a strange wailing noise from the corridor and runs down to the corridor main doors to investigate. Peaking outside, he sees a bone chilling sight! A complete spinal column with a one-eyed brain attached is crawling towards him through the debris on the floor! The pure horror has his brain short circuiting and screaming in panic he fires a long burst of shots with his Tommy gun, obliterating the thing along with half the corridor, sending splinters of glass, plaster and wood flying…

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The Brain Thing

[Keeper note: H.P failed his SAN check, losing 5 SAN but then he manged his Idea roll so his mind failed to realize the mind-shattering horror of what he just witnessed].

When the dust settles, he runs to the others, seeing Case kneeling on the floor, trying to resciciutate Ulla, but to no avail. H.P tries to shake life into her as well, but Ulla is dead, a look of dread and disbelief in her eyes…

Shocked, sitting on the floor beside Ulla’s body, the investigator’s suddenly hear a wailing sound from above and decide to investigate. After sneaking up the stone stairs they discover that most of the second floor is inaccessible due to locked steel doors sealing the corridors. However, the stairs lead further up to a third floor.

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Third floor power

The third floor is an attic of sorts. One large empty room. In the far end they spot a human figure strapped to a chair. The head is hanging, drool slowly dripping down on the floor. Moving closer they see that it’s Lt. Poole! The man has been beaten and is now clearly out of his mind, mumbling about “the wings, the wings”.

The investigators untie him and bring him down the stairs to the first floor, where they spotted a semi-busted wheelchair before. Poole is parked in the chair and the men go looking for a second wheelchair for Ulla’s body. That is when they find it – the stair to the basement…

After some discussion they decide to make a quick check in the basement and see if they can find a wheelchair. Downstairs, they find a rickety wheelchair in a room full of broken furniture and hospital gear. Two rusty, locked steel doors lead out of the room. Faint scuttling sounds can be heard from behind the west door…

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Basement…

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Boiler room

Case decides to try the door and manages to pick the lock. The door swings open on rusty creaking hinges. It’s the boiler room and is dominated by a huge coal fulelled iron furnace from the last century. In a corner there’s a huge pile of coal. Suddenly, the boiler fires up, bathing the room in red-orange firelight! H.P and Case quickly decides to withdraw, locking the door and fleeing upstairs. They place Ulla’s stiffening body in the wheelchair and hastily exit the building, heading the short walk back to the harbour.

The prison guard looks at them suspiciously but decides against arguing with such distinguished law enforcement professionals and return to his shed with a sigh. Shortly after, the Hopkins arrives to take the now decimated band of investigators back to the civilisation.

They load up the insane police detective and dead Ulla in the back seat and drive back to the laundry to brief the others. The Kid is there, warning them that Macceroni apparently has disappeared and that the disappearance, along with that of Lt. Poole and the “Cult Killings case” now has been given to a Lt. Dingle.

Hospital

Case and H.P then drives to the Bellevue Hospital Center with insane Lt. Poole and dead Ulla. They then call Capt. Malone who arrives shortly. The suspended policemen tell Malone about the island and how they found Poole, leaving out all things supernatural. Malone is glad to have Poole back, but the suspension is still in place as far as the police PCs are concerned. Malone teels them to drop the case and stay low until further notice.

The Medical Affairs Board

In early evening (about 7 p.m), Case and H.P decide to follow up on the lead regarding Dr. Robert Huston’s psychiatric patient files on Roger Carlyle. As Dr. Huston was a member of the Carlyle expedition and is presumed dead, his patient files are stored at the Medical Affairs Board on Park Avenue at 61st Street. This is a posh address and after showing Macceroni’s badge to the guard in the lobby, the PCs are admitted into Suite 1002 where the Board Offices reside. The place is officially closed as it’s Sunday evening, but since the secretary is there working with some overdue tasks he agrees to see the PCs briefly. They are met by a most snobbish and annoying Mr. Adrian Ferris, Secretary to the board. Despite their best attempt at talking Ferris into letting them read the records, Ferris declines their proposition stating in a most condescending way that if they’re not (a) relatives, (b) fellow psychiatrists or (c) have a warrant from a judge, he will not let them access the records. Period.

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Adrian Ferris. Snobbish a**hole…

Case considers letting Ferris make himself aquanted with his police baton, but decides against it and the investigators are forced to leave the Medical Board none the wiser. As they exit they see Ferris wiping his hands as if he had touched something very dirty…

The City Morgue

Driven by the failure at the Medical Affairs Board, the policemen decide to follow up on another lead as they read in the papers that bodies have been disappearing from the City Morgue (which is at Bellevue Hospital, East 26th Street). Meeting up with the first assistant to the chief medical examiner (Dr. Drüber-Halle), they get the names of the disappeared bodies:

  • Michael Conley – longshoreman
  • Adolf Thurmond – stock broker at Wall Street
  • Damir Kharzov – burnt-to-crisp low life criminal

It appears that the bodies just vanished into thin air. No signs of forced entry. No suspicious people seen in the morgue. No nothing…

And here we had to conclude for the evening. To be continued…

The in-game time stamp is about 9 p.m (21.00) Sunday 18th of January 1925


Since we had our first killed investigator, I’ve started a new page called “The Gallery of Honor“, where those unnamed heroes that lose their lives or minds battling the great evil will be remembered…

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Session 5 | New York | Meat is Murder

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The hungry thing in the subway…

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Justin Case | NYPD Detective | 32 yrs | Djuro

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondant | 31 yrs | Martin

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Ulla Bengtsson | Professor (Chemistry) Columbia Uni | 48 yrs | Berndt

Absent this session

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats

Link to background stories and portraits


Meat is Murder

New York, Sunday January 18th, 1925 | about 1.00 a.m.

This goes way up…

Ju Ju House African Curio Shop, Harlem.

The last shots and screams have just echoed out as poe-lice sirens in the distance signal the approach of several squad cars. H.P, Edward, Carl and Ulla quickly hide in the abandoned laundry shop while Lt. Case and the Kid stay to greet their colleagues only to find themselves surrounded by twenty armed cops led by Inspector Macceroni who tells them that they are relieved of their duties and that his team will take over from here. Case tries to protest but is convinced otherwise by Capt. Malone who confirms that “the brass” have appointed Macceroni from the Special Task Squad to take over the investigation of the “Harlem cult murders” (as they have been named by the tabloids). Case and the Kid are ordered back to police HQ. As they drive away the see Macceroni smile as he enters the shop.

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Capt. Terrence “Pretty Boy” Macceroni

In the car, Case reviews what he knows of Macceroni who is an up-and-coming star in the police force. The man comes from a wealthy background and has studied law at Harvard. He is also the youngest ever to attain his high rank and has a reputation of being very correct and for doing things by the book. Other than that – nothing.

Getting the shaft

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Anger. Hostility towards the opposition.

Entering the Captain’s office, Malone is furious and starts yelling like never before about recklessness, property damage and unnecessary violence. And police harrassment of an innocent African culture club.  He then asks Case to take a vacation until things blow over but when Case tries to persuade him he goes into a fit of rage, spitting sour saliva across the room:

“- You are suspended, Case! Leave your badge and gun on my desk. Now! And that goes for Rennfarth as well!”

Case gets a feeling that the good Captain is under external pressure – someone with power must somehow be connected to this bizarre cult.

Before leaving the police HQ Case asks the Kid to keep an eye open to figure out who is pulling the strings here and decides to unravel some buried dirt on “Pretty Boy” Macceroni. He also takes a quick look at some city maps to see if the subway tunnel under Fat Maybelle’s might possibly be connected to the cellar of the Ju Ju House.

The plan is simple – get back to the cellar of Ju Ju House and finish those occultists once and for all.

Bebop laundry shop

Hidden in the abandoned laundry (that no one knows that they are hiring), Ulla, H.P, Carl and Edward observe the police from Special Task Squad “clean” the Ju Ju House of all evidence! Body bags and other objects are carried out from the premises and people go in with cleaning utensils, led by a smirking Inspector Macceroni.

The bastards!

If the plan doesn’t work – try a Molotov

It is past 12.30 a.m. when Case gets back to the laundry. The others inform him of the dirty police officers and their little cleanup operation. The PCs decide to go back to Fat Maybelle’s and check out the hidden subway tunnel.

Back at the dark and boarded up speakeasy, they take the door under the stair to the cellar and then the circular tunnel down to the service tunnel. Cautiously they traverse the subway tracks and remove the blankets and plywood boards that conceal another circular dark entrance. Torches and weapons ready, they head into the unknown. After a few meters, the tunnel opens up to a rectangular cave with a mystical symbol on the floor, drawn with lime paint. In the back of the cave there’s a colorful drape. A faint moaning sound can be heard… Ulla slides the drape aside with her Tommy gun and the investigators find themselves staring into the myriad eyes of a strange wormlike horror, made of human faces!

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The sanity-blasting sight makes Case so terrified that he involuntarily soils himself*, while Carl manages to keep his stuff in, but in his battered mind he develops a different coping solution to this otherworldly horror*. Edward and Ulla are also shaken but keep their heads cool. After a few seconds (that feels like an eternity) of frozen screaming all the investigators pull their triggers and send a volley of hot lead towards the creature. Carl and Case just keep pressing the triggers of their Tommy guns and empties their 100-round clips into the beast in pure panic. But all those bullets seems to have no effect on the creature who attacks Case. With amazing speed it lashes out and three faces take bites out of the panic strucken police detective!

Retreating, Ulla throws a booze molotov at the roof over the beast, raining broken glass and fire upon it and while the bullets didn’t seem to do anything besides making it angry, the fire seems to actually do some damage! Ulla screams to the others to use their molotovs and while falling back, trying to lure the beast out to the tracks to electrocute it, Carl readies another molotov, but in his nervousness the bottle slips from his sweaty hands, shattering at his feet, setting his shoes and legs on fire, sending him into a merry jig to put out the flames.

The creature is slow so it is no problem to get out into the subway tunnel, but the creature won’t follow pursuit out of the cave. Sensing the vibrations of an approaching subway train, the PCs man up and go in again, throwing molotovs at the creature:

-You don’t like fire huh? Take this you ugly piece of shit!

The creature retreats, but it has nowhere to go to and it succumbs to the flames, spreading a popcorn-like smell as it burns.

The investigators are searching the cave and photographing the creature’s faces to compare with missing persons records when Edward turns around, finding Carl kneeling beside the creature, chomping on something. Edward realizes that Carl has a knife in one hand and three human eyes in the other, pried from the beast…

-We must eat the eyes so that they can’t see us! *chomp chomp*

Edward slaps Carls hand and turns away in disgust…

*[GM comment: Carl and Case failed their SAN checks and lost 8 SAN each, sending them into a short temporary insanity. Case got delusional, seeing familiar faces on the beast while Carl developed another coping mechanism where eating the eyes of the monster would make everything normal again…].

Behind the drape is a smaller cave where the creature has gnawed out a shallow depression, creating a lair of sorts. In the bottom of the lair, there’s yet another round tunnel running deeper into the ground…

Masquerade

The narrow tunnel goes deeper into the rock before levelling out and running fairly straight. The walls are glistening with moisture and sometimes a faint rumble can be felt in the stone. After walking for a long time the tunnel slopes upwards and exits into a small cave with a colorful drape. Faint sounds like someone is whistleling a merry tune can be heard. Learning from previous mistakes, Edward cautiously peaks behind the drape, only to find himself face-to-face with one of the zombie-like creatures from Ju Ju House! He quickly pulls back in the hope he wasn’t noticed.

The investigators come up with the brilliant plan of putting on the silly occultist hats that they took from Jackson Elias’s killers at the Chelsea Hotel. As they only have two, Ulla and Edward puts them on and enters the zombie room. Nothing happens. Searching the small area they find a shaman’s feathered robe on the wall, along with a pair of clawed gloves and two more silly tentacle hats. In a leopard skin bundle they find a book – Africa’s Dark Sects – stolen from the Widener Collection at Harvard University! Also, in the bundle, is a strange African tribal mask with no straps attached.

Ulla and Edward return to the tunnel and they investigate their finds. In a “Look, frost“-moment, Case puts the mask to his face. It immediately attaches itself, forming after his face. The others see Case struggling for air, falling to the ground while clawing to get the mask off. Suddenly the mask changes, as adapting to the new face and Case’s eyes and mouth become visible in the mask. The eyes roll up, showing the whites and Case slumps to the ground, lifeless…

After about 30 seconds, the mask falls off and with some slapping Case comes to senses again, telling that he suddenly found himself in a grey featureless place. There was an old bearded man and winged creatures swirling in the misty sky. Case tried to talk to the man who replied in a booming voice:

You must utter the right words.

And then he was back in the tunnel again. The old man didn’t feel malicious but very alien and Case feels somehow enlightened [GM comment: +1 Cthulhu Mythos skill].

The stalwart investigators put on the new stolen cult hats and proceed into the zombie room, where they tie up the zombies, including their shoelaces. From behind the drape they hear the merry whistling and a sloshing sound. Ulla dares a peak and realizes that she is looking into the cult room below the Ju Ju House, but from across the room. The door they previously entered from is open and sounds can be heard from outside the room. In the center of the cult room, Inspector “Pretty Boy” Macceroni is mopping the floor with a broom and a bucket, while whistling on “Bam, Bam, Bamy Shore” by Mort Dixon. No traces of the previous massacre can be seen. It has all been taken care of…

A plan is devised – to run into the room, grab Macceroni and make him talk. However, as they prepare to run into the room, Mr. Mukunga, dressed in a fancy suit steps into the room.

“-Almost done here, Mr. Mukunga” says Macceroni. “-Hell of a job, but someone’s gotta do it, right?” And with a last splosh he throws the red stained wash cloth into the bucket.

Brass knuckles on one hand and shotgun in the other, Case runs into the room and punches Mukunga’s jaw, telling him to shut the fuck up. They know what magic powers Mukunga has, so they’re taking no risks with the African sorcerer. Simultaneously, Edward rushes at Macceroni and places his gun at the police detective’s forehead, making it clear that silence is of the essence. Ulla and Carl takes up post at the corridor door, making sure that no one comes that way.

Macceroni acts very surprised, but Mukunga starts chanting in some African language. Afraid of the fireballs and zombies, Case shoots him, point plank in the face, sending blood and brain matter over the newly cleaned floor and walls. Mukunga falls backwards, his head a bloody mess.

“-I told you to shut the fuck up…” Case is breathing hard, adrenaline pumping…

Macceroni starts to whine about his mighty contacts and how the investigators will end up in jail and the electric chair and that no one will believe them before the word of him, the successful Inspector Macceroni. His monologue is ended abruptly when Case’s brass knuckles dig into his cheekbone, sending him sprawling on the semi-wet flagstone floor. The investigators try to question him, aided by punches and general slap-around techniques, but Macceroni spills nothing. Only when the zombies are released to feast on Mukunga’s carcass does he start to look frightened and blathers something of “the Cult of the Bloody Tongue” and how the cult will hunt them down and kill them in imaginable ways.

After some harsh questioning, it is evident that Macceroni won’t talk. His aspirations to power dies right there on the stone floor as Case and Edward put some bullets in him, leaving the carcass to be disposed of by the two zombies, along with Mukunga’s corpse. Before they release the monsters, the heroes make sure that no traces of evidence are left that could lead back to them.

The sounds of the zombie’s ripping and tearing and feasting on the cultists’ flesh echo in their ears as they leave the cult room the same way as they came…

A quick look at their wrist-watches shows that it is almost Sunday morning – 5.30 a.m. Tired and bleeding, stumbling from exhaustion and shocked by the recent events the investigators walk in silence as in a drug haze they slowly move back to Fat Maybelle’s to get their car and drive back to the abandoned laundry which now has to become their new base of operations as no one knows about it. Rennfarth’s bookshop has been compromised, and their apartments are surely under surveillance.

The Laundry it is.


To be continued…