The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode III: Night Comes On (Part 3)

Freddie douses his lantern. Pearkes stations himself by the door. The room goes pitch black.

Something comes through the doorway.

Pearkes grabs it, wrestling it down. Freddie lights the lantern.

They see a pale faced young man, dressed in breeches, a frilly white shirt, and a cape. All his clothes are rather shabby and falling apart.

“Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me! Who are you?”

“Calm down old man. We’re here to help. What’s your name?”

“Me? I’m…I’m…John. William? No. John. That’s what they called me. Wait. Something else. Doctor. I’m a doctor.”

“Do you have a last name?”

“Pol…Per…Pally…Polidori! That’s me, Doctor John Polidori!”

“And what are you doing here?”

“I went away. The Master told me to go away, and I went. He told me to forget, and I forgot.”

“And who is this master fellow?”

“He’s the Master! He’s the oldest one. He made me, long ago.”

This goes on for a while. John came from the south, from Victory, wherever that was. He had gone to see the Master for some reason, and it amused the Master to drive him insane and dress him in this ridiculous fashion. John has been living here for some time, surviving on the blood of animals and his memory.

“There was me, and Mary, and…ship guy, who orders ships? Admiral? Admiral’s grandson. George. He let us call him George, not my lord. I was his doctor. This was long ago.”

“Really? I say John, who was king back then?”

“George.”

“Your friend?”

“No! Crazy George. Then his son, when I died.”

“You…what, old man?”

“Died. I died. The Master made me then. Oh, I tried to die again. I hung myself for a day, but it didn’t work. I shot myself, but I got better again. I can’t die.”

Freddie takes a closer look. John only inhales when he needs to talk. His skin is cold. Freddie checks for a pulse. He doesn’t find any.

“Can you open your mouth?”

With a sinking feeling, Freddie examines the long fangs of John Polidori.

Thoroughly disturbed, the group discuss what to do. Freddie feels the best thing to do is to ensure that John gets fresh blood every night, so that he won’t terrorize people. Pearkes and Gilbert want to destroy him, but Freddie wins out.

“So, listen John, we’ll arrange for you to have blood every day. How’s that sound?”

“Oh good! Very good. Good to have blood. I’ve been so hungry for so long. Not having blood. Good blood. Blood like yours…”

“Er, right. Well…we’ll be going then…”

“Yes. I think you should go. You should go right now. Go before I decide to eat you…”

Pearkes sticks the blade of his sword cane through John’s head.

A furious struggle breaks out. John turns out to be incredibly strong, seizing Pearkes and ravaging his neck. Gilbert and Freddie try to drag the vampire off of Pearkes, who starts to shoot the undead. Freddie squirts some lantern fuel on the vampire and then bashes him with the lantern, setting him on fire. Undaunted, John plunges his fangs into Freddie’s neck, gleefully sucking down the arterial blood that splashes everywhere. Finally Gilbert and Pearkes manage to hack John’s head off with the sword cane, ending the fight.

Gilbert manages to get Freddie stable, but it is clear that they must get him medical attention soon or he will bleed out.

Together, Pearkes and Gilbert manage to drag Freddie back to the surface. While Gilbert stands guard (they are on the edge of the Old City), Pearkes runs out to look for something to make a stretcher out of.

He tears down the awning in front of a shop—the poles and the awning cloth are perfect. Unfortunately, he makes enough noise to wake up the store’s owner.

The shop owner rushes outside to confront the colonel. Pearkes throws a ten-pound note at him, but the man just spits at it. He starts to scream in Arabic, causing a crowd to rapidly gather. Pearkes steps back and fires a shot in the air.

A man steps out of the crowd, holding an ancient percussion rifle. “Put down your gun, English. We are tired of you coming and stealing from us.”

Pearkes faces the sheikh down with his steely battlefield glare.

Despite his best attempts to head off the crowd, eventually Pearkes is surrounded and then delivered to the Egyptian Police nicely trussed up. The sheikh swears out a warrant against him, and eventually an officer from the base arrives to get him released.

Meanwhile, Gilbert has managed to get some of the local children (roused by the near-riot) to run off and fetch a carriage to take them back to Claridge’s.

Freddie, having been warned off of the local hospitals, has the hotel hire a doctor and round-the-clock nurses. He has Hasan the dragoman summon a local representative of the Wafd—the anti-British political party—to the hotel to discuss Pearkes’ case.

The representative who comes turns out to be none other than Saad Zaghloul, the leader of the party and ex-Prime Minister. Zaghloul wants to use the incident to incite the party; the elections are a week away, and an anti-British incident will be useful. Freddie manages to convince him that a healthy donation to the Wafd will be gladly made, provided his friend Pearkes gets out of his jam. Zaghloul agrees, and Pearkes’ charges are dismissed with a fine.

While Freddie recuperates, he is visited by Mustafa Pasha, the under-secretary of Cultural Affairs and a friend of King Faud. The pasha wants to use Freddie’s injury as the royalist’s own political incident: the assault on an innocent British civilian by the ruffians who rioted in the Old City. Freddie demurs gently, but manages to convince Mustafa he is on his side.

After a week, Freddie is well enough to make the trip to Cairo, and they take the train south, hoping to follow up on their slender leads: the names Omar Shakhti and Faraz Najir from Jackson’s journal, and Erica’s tip to find Warren Besart.

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