I am currently sitting in the corner booth at the Fat Beaver Inn, enjoying some pre-dinner coffee served up by LuAnn, the Fat Beaver’s lead waitress. LuAnn only has one arm, which you’d think would be a detriment in her line of work. But she handles it with aplomb. She lost the arm, it seems, in a most singular manner: singing accident. LuAnn sang in the children’s choir at her parents’ church. Voice of an angel, the preacher always said. But it was a poor congregation, and the church was in a state of some disrepair. Specifically, they had termites. So one Sunday, the little stage the children sang on collapsed, sending them all tumbling.
Now, this didn’t happen simply because of the weight of the children. There was one boy in particular, a large child (portly, is the sense I get) by the name of Melvin, who stood directly in front of LuAnn in the choir. And Melvin was filled with the Spirit, as they say, always waving his arms and dancing slightly as the choir went through its repertoire. Well, this Sunday, Melvin was particularly joyful, and began bouncing up and down, absolutely hyperactive with the power of the Lord. And (at least according to LuAnn) it was Melvin’s antics which caused the stage to collapse, and Melvin himself to fall over on top of LuAnn. His weight pushed her through the wall (which was also termite-infested), and the two of them went right into works of the rickety disused pipe organ.
LuAnn put her arm out to break her fall, and it got stuck between the pipes, which then broke the arm to pieces as the whole pipe organ structure came crashing down of top of them. Luckily for LuAnn, Melvin took the brunt of the falling pipes. But then she was left trapped, under tons of metal and a bleeding overgrown choir boy, covered in termites. It took them hours to dig her out, and by the time they did, her arm was a lost cause.
LuAnn doesn’t sing anymore. Doesn’t go to church, either.
At any rate. I’m waiting for Denise to return from a follow-up interview with Alexandra Melmoth, and am taking the opportunity to review the case. I’ve got files and notebooks spread out all across the table, and I’m suddenly reminded that I need to update you on some information gathered by Pannawau law enforcement while I was in the hospital. They did some good legwork here that fills an important gap in the Melmoth kidnapping.
First of all, Alexandra confirmed to Sheriff Patton that she was indeed held in the cabin Cheveyo and I found at the end of the Liar’s Path, though she claimed not to remember much about her time there. Said she passed in and out of consciousness because the Nukpana kept her drugged. I would assume that’s a reference to their attempts to feed her the Osceola, the Black Drink of the Alo. So she may have swallowed more of the stuff than I thought.
Regardless, it would seem that she was held for at least three days, during which time she was often left alone. She said that the “masked women” returned every night with food and more drugs, but she made no further mention of the sad old man who oversaw her kidnapping. That seems strange to me. Considering his obvious control over both Alexandra’s abduction and the sacrifice of Ruth Omusa, I find it hard to believe that the Sad Man wouldn’t have supervised whatever they were attempting in that cabin.
But the cabin is a story unto itself. Though built on Alo land, it belonged until about 20 years ago to a local hunting club. Near as they can tell, this group of white men was granted lifelong hunting rights to a portion of the reservation in return for what Cheveyo has called “services rendered.” The nature of those services was apparently not recorded, but ownership of the cabin reverted to the Alo at the death of the last of the club’s founding members: Cy Peterson, grandfather of Jase Peterson, Possum Reynolds’ partner in the Melmoth kidnapping scheme.
But Jase, being Jase, kept going back. His grandfather had brought him into the club as soon as he was old enough to hold a gun, and he didn’t want to give it up. He once told Patton, “Papa Cy bled for that place,” and refused to accept that he wasn’t allowed back. That attitude left him with a record of poaching violations about a mile long. Cheveyo and Patton are both positive that he was using the cabin as a base camp when he went out there, so it’s not too great a leap to assume he was doing just that when he found Alexandra.
And according to her, that’s exactly what happened. From the interview transcript provided me by the Sheriff’s Office:
I thought it was just the women coming back, but that couldn’t have been right because the sun was up. Then I heard voices. Men. Speaking English. They had me gagged, so I couldn’t yell for help, but I started making noise and rocking the chair back and forth, banging the side of the table. And that’s when they found me. Jase and Possum.
They came into that back room, and Jase cut me loose. But then Possum recognized me, and hit on the ransom idea. They argued a little, but Possum finally talked Jase into it. So they marched me out to their car and… and they forced me into the trunk. Then I blacked out again. The drugs, they… They must have stayed in my system a long time. I came to tied to a bed. It was dark outside. Possum was sitting in a chair staring at me funny. He had a shotgun pointed at me.
I started to say something, but he cut me off. Told me to shut up. He yelled for Jase, and the two of them just stood there for a minute, staring at me. They looked like they hadn’t slept in a while. Then Possum pulled his eyes off me and handed the gun to Jase. He said he was going home, and he’d be back later to help keep watch. Then he… He told Jase not to touch me while he was away.
It went on like that for… I don’t know how many days. I was still passing out, and fuzzy. Some things are really clear, others seem like a dream. I do remember waking up that last morning, though. They were having an argument. Possum was upset about something. I couldn’t hear everything, but after a while Possum came back and untied me. He had a gun, like always, and he lead me out into the living room, where Jase was waiting. He looked so sad. And… My mind was still cloudy from the drugs, but… They argued some more. Possum was saying they had to kill me and leave town, but Jase just wanted to let me go.
It turned into a shouting match, and… and finally, Possum shot Jase. He shot him, and just stood there staring at all the blood. At Jase’s body. And. And I knew I had to get away. So while Possum was distracted, I grabbed up a tire iron Jase had lying on the floor, and– I don’t really remember very much after that. I guess I attacked him. They said I hurt him pretty bad. But… He was going to kill me! I know he was going to kill me, and… I just hope he doesn’t die.
Obviously, I don’t know how much of that we should believe. Alexandra’s a very confused young woman, sir, one whose very humanity is under assault. I’d hate for her to leave that behind the way LuAnn’s done with the church. For that reason, I’ve asked Sheriff Patton to place a watch on Melmoth House. He’ll have two men on surveillance duty around the clock, ready to report anything unusual.
Now. It’s good, at certain points in a case, to review the facts and speculate. I think now is one of those times, so…
Observations, Theories, Guesses:
It would seem that what we’re dealing with here is an attempt by the Sad Man (and perhaps others amongst the Alo) to summon the creature I’ve dubbed the Black Mirror Brute. What perplexes me is why he would possibly want that. If Cheveyo’s willingness to kill anyone who’s conspired with the Black Mirror World is widespread in Alo culture, why would any of them take the risk? Denise has suggested that it’s some kind of fertility ritual, and the Brute’s nature would certainly seem to support that idea. He is, as Denise put it, “a dick-headed monkey.” But surely there are less destructive fertility spirits to call up.
The same could be said for Yig. In its masculine aspect, Yig has shown itself to be a terror. If it expresses a feminine incarnation in Alexandra, I can only assume it will be the same. And yet, it seems that someone is attempting that very thing.
Is it the Sad Man? He certainly seems a good suspect. Why else give the girl more Osceola? When she failed to attract the attention of the Brute, they could have easily killed her or let her go. So why keep her tied up and out of her mind on a psychoactive substance unless they were trying to awaken Yig inside her? And if that’s the case, was dragging the two of us into the Black Mirror World another attempt at the same?
But was the Sad Man even behind that, or are we dealing with another shadow player who wants that girl to become a monster? Someone… I’d guess someone in her family… has been visiting her with a knife annually since her 13th birthday. That could just be a sick game, but if it’s not… and considering everything else that’s been happening to her, I tend to think it’s not… it seems obvious that they were hoping to incite some kind of Yig response in her. The natural suspect there is her grandfather, but he seems too far gone for that. That leaves her guardian, Andrew Robinson. But after the conversation I had with him this morning, I doubt his involvement.
But Denise has just returned, sir, so I’ll have to share that conversation with you next time.
– Agent X-23, signing off.