WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CHELSEA ABERDEEN?
GBI Case File No. GBNS-2004-22/203
"It's him..." the woman next to her said. Somehow she thought she should know who the strawberry blond woman, dressed in a simple purple gown, should be...but that identity was escaping her...
She looked up to see a man come out of the shadows...his dark, unassuming garb matched the furtiveness of his footsteps.
"Fergus?" the woman beside her called softly.
"Aye..." the man replied. "Ye got away without being seen?" An accent...Scottish. It had to be Scottish. She knew someone who came from Scotland.
"Aye..." the woman replied.
The man threw back the hood covering his face. With a start, the one observing the scene...the one that somehow neither seemed to realize was there, recognized the face of Dr. Fritz Baugh, member of the shut down GBI franchise in Los Angeles.
And the woman was his missing lady love, Chelsea Aberdeen.
"Tis dangerous to keep meeting like this, Danise..."
"I know...but until we can stop Lady Lucindra, we don't have much choice, do we?"
The two embraced, and shared a hungry kiss that both showed their reluctance at ending.
"Oh, that I could have ye in my chamber tonight..." Danise said throatily.
Fergus nodded. "I know...but...patience, M'Love, patience...what have you learned?"
"I've heard a word. A name, I think...I don't know if it's the name of the skeevy man who keeps coming to see Her Ladyship or not, but the way it was said...it's got to be important to this somehow."
"Maybe it'd be a help...even without seeing the scoundrel's face..." Fergus nodded.
"I hate that man...I would swear on the Laird's Bible he keeps looking at me..."
"What was the word?" Fergus asked.
Danise shuddered. "Dagon"
She had actually become quite unused to being asleep this time of day--the team she was on was called Ghostbusters Nightsquad, after all, which meant they pretty much lived most of their lives on the "Third Shift"
She looked over at Bo, resting beside her. He didn't seem to be having any problems getting some rest.
Jen shook the cobwebs out of her head. I'm probably not getting too much more sleep tonight anyway she thought to herself as she headed to the kitchen.
"Dagon", if memory serves, was the name of Phoenician fertility god depicted as having the head and torso of a man, the tail of a fish...kind of a prototypical Mer-Man. Jen thought to herself. He also appeared in the Necronomicon.
She knew logically, the dream was probably nothing more than a bunch of mixed elements. Fritz and the woman he was looking for. Mention of an entity from a pantheon of beings her uncle had dealt with twice before. Scotland, perhaps, from her conversations with Vincent Belmont, who had been born there.
That might be the way her father or her grandfather would look at it.
On the other hand, Uncle Egon believed in being skeptical, but open. In her conversations with him, Vincent had been even more blunt--"It is an accepted Hermetic precept that dreams can sometimes have supernatural or precognitive capacity."
She had worked with Belmont numerous times over the years. He had remarked that she had "potential". Possibly even the "Gift" itself, but had been "stifled" by her upbringing (he'd even confessed, and swore her to secrecy, that he had even suspected the same of her uncle).
It might have been too late for her Uncle Egon, now nearing the age of 47, but her destiny had not yet been set. She'd learned a few spiritual techniques that might have alarmed even Egon (to say nothing of horrifying her father or Great Uncle Cyrus): "Wuxing" it was called.
Deep down I suspect that dream did have some sort of message...but what? Perhaps when Fritz awakens, and Vincent arrives...
She stopped when she realized the TV was going. It wasn't that fact--she might have suspected Yeti or Tom watching it--but it was the fact that it was on CNN, which neither would've been caught dead watching.
They were showing a clip from one of President George Bush's campaign rallies: "Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."
"Lying incompetant son of a bitch..." a voice from the couch snarled. "Your hat is named 'Cheney'..."
"Fritz?" she asked, slightly incredulously. The night before Fritz looked like he'd been beaten to death, like sleep would've been the only thing he was capable of.
"...Dumbass lies to get us into a war...turned a surplus into a record deficit...lets the oil companies write our energy policy...but he never got a blow job from an intern, so I guess that means it's okay..."Fritz slurred.
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say you're probably voting for Kerry?" Jen replied.
"I can't believe anyone with more than six active braincells would vote for that cretin Bush..." Fritz grumbled. He didn't have his glasses on. His eyes were bloodshot and his hair, never the most organized, was an utter mess.
"Vincent would disagree with that." Jen noted.
"It's still a free country, Jennifer..." Fritz said after a pause. "John Ashcroft hasn't undone that yet...Vincent's allowed his opinion, I'm allowed to disagree with it..."
"Why are you up?" she finally asked. "I'm used to being awake right now--but you looked like death warmed over...actually, you still do."
Fritz didn't answer her for a good thirty seconds. "If only sleep were that easy...it's been this way since she left. I toss and turn...wonder what I did wrong..." He shook his head. "And the nightmares...I keep dreaming she's the Mushroom princess and King Koopa is kidnapping her. Or that we're characters in this dumb soap opera my Grandma watches, and she's been written out of the show. Or..."
"Fritz..." Jen put a hand on his shoulder. "You have got to stop doing this to yourself. You need to sleep, or you won't be of any use once we do find her. There are some sleep pills in the cabinet...just about every new recruit to this team's had trouble adjusting to our schedule, and they help."
"Don't argue with me, Doctor." Jen said with a little more firmness. "Or I'll wake Bo up to deal with you--and he's cranky when he's tired."
Fritz managed a smirk. "Of that I have no doubt...I..."
He seemed to have some difficulty getting up off the couch. "Thank you..." he finally said, with a wan smile.
She stood lost in contemplation--and worry--for a good five minutes after he left the room.
Bo mumbled and opened the door to admit Vincent. "You do and I'll stuff your phoenix feather wand right up your ass..."
"Ah yes..." Vincent said, managing a bit of a grin. "I'd forgotten what a foul humor you have this time of morning." He held up a bag. "I brought breakfast. That should help."
"Krazy's sausage egg biscuits do help" Bo smirked back, grabbing the bag. "Now did you bring any for everyone else?"
Vincent rolled his eyes. "Is Fritz awake yet?"
Bo talked as he ate. "Nope. Jen said he was awake at about four this morning insulting Clueless Leader, so she made him take some sleeping pills."
Vincent shook his head. "As large a team as they were, and not a one of them could be here for him?"
"I know..." Bo nodded. "I really wish Jeff was here--the other guy we worked with last year? Seemed pretty cool...I was half thinking of trying to pinch him from LA, but nobody at GBI's heard from him since after the Ashram shit went down."
Vincent mused. "I tried to contact Leon Hogan, but his mother requires constant care. He was torn enough being away from her when she got ill..."
"We gotta find this woman, Belmont." Bo said after a pause. "But first I gotta take a dump..."
Phoenician fertility god depicted in their mythos with the head and torso of a man, and the lower body of a fish.
Dagon is also spoken of in the Necronomicon, where he is the progenitor of a race of sea creatures called "The Deep Ones"
Lovecraft, Howard Phillips
GBI Case File GBNY-1985-3/232
Cult led by Clark Ashton summons the Great Old One, Cthulhu
GBI Case File GBNY-1989-7/108
Toad Island Incident. Dagon worshipper Nogad attempts to summon Deepest One
GBI Case File GBNY-1990-8/608
Russian cultists summon Old One Cyaega
Toad Island? That's local... Jen thought to herself. This is all just a flight of fancy based on a dream, but that's an interesting co-incidence...
Identification: Human/Deep One hybrid; physical entity
GBNY was contacted by Toad Island resident Kenneth Grahame; Nogad had taken control of the community, and was attempting to restore old program of kidnapping and forced breeding of tourists with "Deep Ones" to create human/Deep One hybrids. The inhabitants of Toad Island are descended from earlier "participants" in the program, and were not supportive of Nogad's goal, but felt powerless to stand against him.
Fact finding team was sent, comprised of GBNY staff member Dr. Egon Spengler and GBNY Client Administrator Janine Melnitz, posing as a vacationing couple (Revision 7/98: Since Egon and Janine got married later, this wasn't much of a stretch for them, was it?--RFS). Once signs of supernatural activity were determined, GBNY staff moved to confront.
GBNY oversight of not providing a proton pack to Melnitz nearly proved disasterous, as she was seized by Nogad's forces and nearly forced to participate in the breeding program. Melnitz and two tourists were freed by GBNY prior to "marriage" ceremony.
Entity that Nogad called "The Deepest One" appeared at ceremony, but did not seek conflict, and returned to the ocean. It appeared to repudiate Nogad's program; Nogad was jailed by the Toad Island populace soon after.
It is unclear if "the Deepest One" was in fact Dagon. It's tentacled appearance match descriptions of various Old Ones as depicted in the Necronomicon, but it's mass did not (most descriptions are of much larger beings). Dr. Spengler has speculated that the "Deepest One" seen at Toad Island might have either been a servitor entity, or a projection of the true Dagon.
Though Toad Island authorities never confirmed this, we assume "Nogad" was an alias in tribute to his alleged master. It's the name Dagon spelled backwards.
"Jennifer?" she heard Vincent's voice. He knocked briefly as he entered the room. "I managed to save you one biscuit before Bo ate it..."
"Look at this." Jen said simply, pointing at the screen.
Vincent adjusted his glasses, and did as she asked as she ate her breakfast.
"Hm..." he finally said. "And what brought this to your attention?"
Jen shook her head, and then described the dream she'd had. The two people that looked like Fritz and Chelsea, and the mention of "Dagon"...
"I tried cross referencing Dagon and Scotland first thing, but nothing came up. I plugged in the three names, Fergus, Danise, and Lucindra..."
"Lucindra is a fairly unusual name..." Vincent mused.
"It is..." Jen agreed. "But not unusual enough to have ever made it into anything on T.O.B.I.N."
"Still...it gives us something to check up on." Vincent said.
"This dream could have been nothing." Jen continued. "I mean, like I told myself last night, it could have been just some subconscious mixing of my concern for Fritz with your presence..."
"Or you recieved a genuine extrasensory vision." Vincent reminded her. That's the problem with scientists sometimes...they use logic to talk themselves out of good hunches.
"I DROPPED A MASSIVE DEUCE!!!" Bo's voice came from the bathroom, loudly proclaiming his latest accomplishment.
Jen sighed. "He sounds so proud..."
Vincent smirked. "Is that the smoke alarm I hear?"
"No." Yeti replied.
"Then what's the fun of beating you then? Give me your f***ing maximum Yeti power!!!"
"Okay." Yeti smirked, then pinning Bo's arm with ridiculous ease. "Like that?"
Bo massaged his arm. "Er...yeah, sorry about that. Fritz came in and it distracted me, causing me to lose my Legendary strength for a second..."
"Right..." Yeti rolled his eyes. Then he grunted amiably. "Hey Dr. B..."
"Bout time you got up." Bo joked.
"Somebody was snoring loudly last night. It kept me from sleeping." Fritz replied.
"He must be doing better if his sense of humor is coming back..." Yeti chuckled.
"Such as it is..." Bo added.
"Right now...I'm hungry." Fritz said, adjusting his glasses.
"Well, Belmont brought breakfast, and hid one from me--it should be in the microwave." Bo said. "Eat up, and come downstairs--I think Jen and Vincent may have found something..."
Fritz raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment. If it had been a solid lead, they probably would've awoken him sooner. Instead..."I just have one question--was that your smoke alarm I heard earlier?"
"An amusement part in Red Hook..." Vincent nodded. "It was quite popular about the time of the 1939 World's Fair."
"I bet the freak show was something incredible..." Bo chuckled, puffing on his cigar.
"We don't know if this has anything at all to do with this situation." Jen reiterated. "It might be just a coincidence..."
"I still think it's worth investigation." Vincent noted.
Fritz rubbed his head, making his disheveled hair even more disheveled. "If you think it best...what about Aunt Dorothy?"
Jen looked at him. "We've been talking about this, and what we think is best is this: you and Bo go to Toad Island, just to scout around, maybe show Chelsea's picture to a few people. We've already called Kenneth Grahame--he'll be expecting you. Meanwhile, let Vincent and I approach Dorothy Aberdeen..."
Fritz's bloodshot eyes opened wider. "You have to be kidding! Toad Island may be nothing, but Dorothy is a link to Chelsea...you thought I wouldn't want in on that?!"
"That's why we think it's best you don't, Fritzy." Bo said, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Didn't you say she'd seen pictures of you, talked to you on the phone--basically she knows who you are, and already made it clear she didn't want to talk to you? Let Jen and Gandalf see what they can get first."
Fritz sat silently for a minute.
"We promise you--if we get anything concrete from her about Chelsea, we'll call you immediately." Jen said.
"And you being out there doing something might be better for you than just sitting and brooding." Vincent added.
Fritz finally nodded, his reluctance plain. "All right..."
He came out into the garage area to see Bo, dressed in his black Nightsquad flight suit, and Jen and Vincent, dressed in street clothes.
"Ms. Aberdeen might be more willing to talk to us if we aren't dressed like Ghostbusters." Vincent explained. Bo was giving Jen a long, sloppy goodbye kiss.
"Assuming we ever get to leave..." Vincent rolled his eyes.
"Marriage killed your sex life that fast, Merlin?" Bo quipped, finally letting Jen loose. "Jealous?"
"No more than the last time I caught the water buffalo mating on Animal Planet..." Vincent retorted; Jen laughed as she and Vincent left. Bo shot Belmont one last bird in the process.
Fritz sighed. "I suppose I'd better suit up..."
Bo smirked. "You're gonna need this." He handed Fritz a box.
Fritz opened it. Inside was a black flight suit, with the Ghostbuster logo on the right shoulder patch in purple--the color of Nightsquad. But Fritz's last name was on the chest patch. "But...I already have a flight suit..."
Bo shook his head, and chuckled mischievously. "Your boys in Tennessee are wearing the Tennessee suits, right? Well, if you're on my crew, even if it's temporary, you're gonna look the part." He took another puff of his cigar.
Fritz smirked and nodded. "Thanks, Bo..."
Vincent thought for a few moments. "I sense a lot of fear, confusion, and pain in him. But he's not hiding anything. If he really did have something to do with Chelsea's decision, he's not aware of it."
Jen shook her head. "Did you ever talk with her?"
"Not a lot. The only time I met her was when I was in Los Angeles for John Lipsyte's funeral...it didn't leave a lot of time for socializing."
Jen's brow furrowed. "I don't think he did have anything to do with it. It all comes down to her. I don't know what...another man, maybe."
Vincent's eyes shot wide. "I do know her well enough to find that highly unlikely."
"The first time I met my Aunt Janine I would've said the same thing."
Vincent grimaced. "And I swear to you, if this is all happening because she's shacked up with an accountant, I shall probably require your services to keep me from roasting the bastard on the spot."
You could just about forget he's still part fish Bo had remarked to himself. Grahame had been so gracious Bo had found himself unable to make too many jokes about the man's appearance other than one "I know a really good skin creme." As the descendant of forced matings between Deep Ones and human, his skin had a very splotchy appearance, his face sporting little hair, large lips, large droopy eyes, and practically no nose to speak of.
After an hour searching around (and Bo taking time to pig out on some cotton candy) Fritz asked for a rest.
"And we didn't even wear in our packs." Bo joked as they sat down on a bench. He started to eat the hot dog he'd just bought, and spared a look at his friend. The guy looks like he's about ready to fall over.
"You all right? You've been limping the last fifteen minutes..."
Fritz exhaled deeply. "I think I twisted my left ankle during the Ashram battle or something...it didn't really start acting up until a few days ago, right before I came to New York."
"F***...why didn't you let anyone know sooner?"
"It's no big deal...it's fine..."
Bo decided not to push it right now. "What kind of readings you get?"
"The ambient energy is definitely higher than the surrounding area...but not beyond the realm of normality, either..." Fritz replied, studying his PKE Meter.
Some kids came up to them. "Are you Ghostbusters?"
"No. We're cosmonauts." Bo retorted, as amiably as possible. He hated kids.
Fritz chuckled. "Yes..."
"Are there ghosts here?" one of them asked.
"I haven't detected any." Fritz replied, showing them his meter.
"Cool..." one of the kids said approvingly. "Can I have that?"
"Um, no. I need it for my work--and it's very expensive."
"Oh..." the little boy replied, looking dejected.
"Screw that noise." the fattest kid said. "I want one of those laser backpacks. So that way I can shoot every one that annoys me!"
"Kyle! Stan! Eric!!!" a voice called.
"Starting with Mister Garrison" the chunky one grumbled. "Just when I thought this school trip was gonna be cool..."
The three kids walked over to an older man. "There you three are...have any of you seen Kenny?" he was asking them as they walked off.
"You were a little more patient with the little shits that I would've been." Bo remarked, finishing his hot dog.
Fritz smirked. "I have three younger brothers...and a niece. I had to deal with children in my previous lines of work...I guess I'm just used to them."
"I used to work in an arcade." Bo replied. "I had to deal with kids too--why do you think I hate them so much?"
Fritz chuckled, then looked up at the sky. "I guess it's good for our species that more people don't think like you do..."
"Considering some of the dumbass f***ers that do breed, I think more people need to think like I do." Bo grumbled.
"I just can't think that way, Bo. I see the joy my niece brings to my brother, his wife...to my Mom and Dad. It's..."
Bo picked up on the hesitation. Some instinct told him to put aside his feelings for the moment, and push the small opening he saw. If he doesn't vent soon he'll crack, I know...but Christ, why me? I suck ass at the touchy-feely shit... "It's what?"
Fritz still looked upward, but his face hardened. "It's hard to not feel like a failure when I look at them. I'm the oldest of the four. I keep feeling like it was my job to have children first...but it just didn't work out that way."
"You do a lot of good, Fritzy." Bo said carefully.
That didn't seem to be what Fritz wanted to hear. "I know, but...I don't know your history before you met Jen, Bo, and I'm not asking...but we're about the same age, so I expect you've had some."
"None I want to think about." Bo replied.
Fritz nodded. "When I was in the fifth grade, I met my first major crush--Theresa. She had an identical twin, Margaret. Theresa never thought much of me, though years later I realized Margaret was probably quite fond of me, but I never saw it."
"When I was in the eighth grade I met Ann Fishburne." he continued. "She tied my heart and tongue into pretzel knots...by the end of ninth grade I was completely in love with her. We kind of lost track of each other until we ended up in college together. And then...well, I don't know what happened. One night she vanished out of the cafeteria, showed up at my dorm in the middle of the night, but didn't tell me what happened to her. But after that she was...different, somehow. Haunted. She just simply dropped out the next semester, and I didn't hear anything about her until a year later, when I heard she'd gotten married."
Bo wasn't sure what to say--or even if he should say anything. He just kept listening.
"Then came Bernice." Fritz sighed deeply and shook his head. "Bernice Roderick. I met her when I went to work at K-Mart. Fussy, eccentric, and as scatterbrained and evasive as a human being could be. She turned me down the first time I asked her out...then later we went on one date, I thought it went great, but within a week she wouldn't speak to me at all."
"Chelsea had already started there by then...but I didn't notice her at first. I was trying so hard to get through to Bernice...when I won the tickets in 2003, I remember telling Chelsea that I probably aught to ask someone besides Bernice to LA. Show Bernice a thing or two. Before I knew I'd asked Chelsea, and she'd actually accepted."
Fritz looked down at the ground. "All I had done to her...a year and a half ignoring her to keep chasing a woman who wouldn't care if I got run over by a truck. Out in LA I realized I wasn't missing Bernice so much...I wasn't missing her at all."
"Then on New Years..." A flush came to Fritz's face as the warmth of the memory came flooding into him.
"No need to draw me a diagram, Fritzy. Jen and I do it quite often." Bo chuckled gently.
"I'd screwed up so many times with so many relationships, Bo, that I couldn't believe I would ever find one that worked. And then it did. And just as quickly and abruptly..."
"It's not your fault." Bo finally reassured.
"How can we be certain of that?" Fritz said, looking at him for the first time in minutes, anger showing in his voice. "The women I love don't want anything to do with me. And I don't notice the women that did love me until it's too late. It's like I'm cursed. And maybe that's why this has happened..."
Vincent looked over at Jen. "Anything?"
Jen was looking at her PKE Meter. As was now standard GBI procedure, the PK trace of all GBI employees were logged at the time of hiring. Chelsea Aberdeen's signature had been downloaded from Fritz's meter into Jen's.
"I'm not 100% sure...it could be her pattern being distorted by the harmonic resonance from a close relative--her aunt. Or it could just be her aunt. That's the problem with using the meter to find a psi inactive..."
"Plan A then." Vincent said, putting on a pair of dark sunglasses.
When they knocked on the door of Apartment 228, the woman who answered the door was indeed the one they'd seen pictures of before. Dorothy Aberdeen was in her fifties, but still fit. As they'd been briefed by Fritz, there was very little obvious resemblance in the face--Chelsea closely resembled her mother. But the distinct color of Dorothy's strawberry blonde hair--even if it was probably artificially enhanced--was familiar.
"Dorothy Aberdeen?" Vincent asked.
"Er...may I help you?" she asked.
"Simon Trevor, FBI." Vincent said in clipped tones, pulling out a badge that really didn't look much like an FBI badge, but a little bit of sorcery (Ars Mentem) would convince just about anyone on a cursory evaluation that it was. "This is my partner, Kate Henderson."
"May we come in, Miss Aberdeen?" Jen asked.
"What...what do you want?" Dorothy spared a quick glance backward.
"We just need to talk to you. We've had a missing person report filed on your niece, Miss Chelsea Aberdeen."
Dorothy bit her lip, and opened the door the rest of the way.
"I really don't know anything..." she said, letting them into the foyer. "Can...I get you a cola? I'm afraid I'm out of coffee."
"That won't be necessary, Ms. Aberdeen." Jen said. "We were given your name by your husband's ex-wife. She says you talked to her and a Mister" Jen looked at her notebook. She didn't really need to--but it was part of the act. "Fritz Bow" she said, intentionally mispronouncing Fritz's family name. "They both said you acted...'evasive'."
Dorothy shook her head and sat down. "I'm not sure why Pauline would say something like that--sure, she and my brother are divorced, but Pauline and I never fought or anything."
As Jen talked to Dorothy, Vincent looked around. He noted a few pictures in the living room. Dorothy and her younger brother James. Pictures of James and Chelsea, and James and Scotty, his eight year old son by his second wife. His eyes narrowed. All of them, and only one of Dorothy as an adult--a prom picture, probably, as the clothing she and her date were wearing had the distinct look of the early 1970's.
"The one you really aught to look at is that boyfriend of hers..." Dorothy said, now looking nervous. "Do you know what he is? He's one of those Ghostbuster con artists. At least once a year it seems like there's some fake emergency involving them--like that stunt back in June, where they had everyone convinced the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was strolling around Ground Zero."
"We've recieved...various reports about their activities over the years, yes." Jen said carefully. She wanted to throttle this woman.
"And since those characters set up in LA I'm sure they're getting more of the same." Dorothy continued. "Hell, I know they're getting more of the same. I hear it from my brother--they have him completely snowed. He swears some monster called a 'Bugbear' tried to attack my nephew last year. Can you believe that?"
"Ms. Aberdeen..." Vincent finally said. "Just to play, pardon the phrase, Devil's Advocate here, if they were frauds, why would your niece work for them?"
Dorothy shook her head. "I wonder that myself. I just don't know. I think this Baugh character got her obsessed with him, like she'd beleive anything he told her. Whether that's 'go along with this for me' or worse, 'no no...it's completely real. Trust me.' Maybe she finally figured it out, and..." Dorothy paused. "Maybe he did something to her. Oh God, she could be dead and buried in a ditch outside Los Angeles...and he's trying to cast blame on me!!!"
"Mrs. Aberdeen says you visited her in Indianapolis about a week before Chelsea disappeared. Says you were asking a lot of questions--and that you seemed, and this was her exact word, 'scared' when she told you about Dr. Baugh." Vincent said.
"Maybe she was misinterpreting...but like I said, I hear a lot about Ghostbuster nonsense living here in New York."
"Then why say nothing for the previous year? To Mrs. Aberdeen or Chelsea?" Jen asked. She and Vincent shared a quick glance. It was quite clear to both of them there was something amiss to Dorothy Aberdeen's story.
"I...didn't think it was my place. But once I heard how close she and that conman were getting..." Dorothy answered hesitantly. "And how that boy died back in April. I was scared of something like that happening to my niece. And now I begin to think it has..."
Jen was about to ask another question when a loud thump from further in the apartment interrupted. A shout of surprise in a female voice...followed by a mournful wail.
The blood drained out of Dorothy Aberdeen's face.
Vincent dashed to the source of it.
"You can't go in there!!!" Dorothy shouted, and started to run after Vincent. Jen grabbed her.
"And why not, Ms. Aberdeen?"
"Locked." Vincent grumbled. He knocked loudly on the door. "Is everything alright in there?!"
"You can't!!!" Dorothy cried, starting to struggle against Jen's hold. "You don't understand!!!"
Vincent's eyes went wide.
From the other side of the door, in a weak voice, came one word: "...vincent?"
Vincent knocked the door open with a spinning back kick.
"NO!!!" Dorothy screamed.
The sight froze Vincent cold.
Sitting on the floor, where she had just apparently fallen out of a bed, wearing a rumpled nightshirt, was the object of their search. Chelsea Denise Aberdeen.
He inhaled in shock. She was pale. Her hair was dirty and clearly uncared for. But worst was the look in the eyes that looked up at him, trying to comprehend what they were seeing. They were sunken and hollow...
My God... he realized. That's the same look as his eyes...
"She's here!!!" Vincent shouted back to Jen.
Dorothy started to flail in panic, throwing Jen off of her. "Arvis!!! You have to stop this!!! Or they'll ruin it all!!!" she shouted.
"Vincent...Belmont?" Chelsea said, her voice ever so slightly more firm. "Oh God, no...it can't be..."
"We need to get you out of here, Miss Aberdeen. Fritz is in the city. He'll..."
She looked as though she'd been jolted with a tazer. "On no..." her hollow eyes filled quickly with tears. "They'll kill him too...Vincent, you have to get him away..."
"Away?!" Vincent said angrily. None of this was making any sense to him. "Chelsea, why in the name of all that's holy are you doing this to him?!"
She looked up at him, face now soaked. "I'm not doing this TO him, I'm doing this FOR him...because if I don't..."
She didn't get to finish the thought. Something punched Vincent in the stomach--HARD.
Before he could react, he was grabbed and hurled into the dresser. The loud sound of breaking wood penetrated the din of sheer pain that was gripping him.
"Arvis!!!" Jen heard Chelsea shout as the attacker turned to her.
The man--if the term really applied--was a good six and a half feet tall, and powerfully built, the muscle shirt he was wearing showing his thick arms. But he was completely hairless save for one shock of hair projecting from his forhead. His skin was leathery and splotchy; his bulbous eyes glared angrily, and his massive lips were contorted into a sneer. He didn't look completely human.
Because he isn't Jen realized. He matches the description of the Toad Island hybrids!!!
Jen managed to dodge the first punch. The monster growled and swung again--for his bulk, he was frighteningly fast.
Dorothy grabbed her niece. "We have to get out of here..."
"Now!!!" Dorothy pulled her. Normally, the younger woman might have been able to resist--but in her clearly weakened state, she was no match.
"Don't look for me, please!!!" Chelsea managed one last shout through her tears. "Zach Norman and Geoff Sheppard!!! Then you'll understand!!!"
"Chelsea, what does that mean?!" Jen shouted back.
Then Arvis' fist connected, and her world vanished to blackness...