Clockwork 1888: Tuesday, March 26, 1889
Evgenia drew her Winchester as she got to Bartley and fired. She winged him but the man rounded the corner onto another street. Archibald ran up to where the man had dropped something and picked it up. It was a crumpled business card for Synn Pharmacy, complete with address.
Dracona didn’t pause to see what it was but ran past and up to the corner where the man had turned. Getting there, she looked in vain for the man in the crowded street. Fredryck ran up and Bartley joined them at the intersection, eyeing the crowd intently.
“There!” Fredryck called as he spotted the man darting into yet another crowded cross street. They made chase but by the time they got to the cross street he was nowhere to be seen. They waited and watched the crowded thoroughfare but didn’t see him again. Archibald caught up to them. “This is what he dropped,” he informed as he showed them the crumpled business card.
“Most would not be so careless,” Evgenia informed, “especially while trying to murder somebody.” “A trap,” Fredryck surmised. “I don’t think we can assume anything else,” Archibald agreed. “So it’s to Synn Pharmacy we go,” Dracona implied. “To see what kind of trap they’ve laid for us,” Bartley concluded.
Even a city such as Greenwich had a poor sector. And any city as old as it had parts of town that were no longer in use. Synn Pharmacy was in such a sector. Before arriving, they gathered some local information. One of the few stores on the street still in business, Synn Pharmacy was founded by Jonathan Synn in 1855 and sold to Malcolm Harvey in 1880.
As was typical, Synn Pharmacy was on the ground floor and the pharmacist and his family lived above. The pharmacy was a small store that filled prescriptions and sold soda, ice cream, and sandwiches. It was a quiet little place stuck between a curio shop, only open by appointment, and a music store that had a tendency to close early. The local rumor was that the Harveys went on vacation two weeks ago so others were hired to fill in for them.
Approaching the pharmacy, they noticed a familiar face through the windows. Randy Irvine, the marketing director from Titan Amusements, was apparently meeting a young woman for drinks at the Synn soda fountain. She wasn’t a Hispanic woman so she was not immediately suspect in Drew’s murder. But, she and Randy seemed to be having a quiet conversation at the soda counter over their drinks.
The pharmacist seemed busy behind the counter of the raised platform that afforded him a view of the entire store. Having surveyed the scenario, they decided to let the trap play out. Dracona, Bartley and Archibald went inside while Evgenia and Fredryck stayed outside flanking the entrance.
As they entered, all eyes looked at them. Then they saw Randy and the soda jerk make eye contact and Randy nodded in the direction of the new guests. They easily recognized that he had signaled the soda jerk that they had arrived.
Dracona went down one of the middle aisles to browse while Bartley and Archibald went to two of the open stools to the left of Randy at the soda counter. “Randy,” Archibald feigned surprise as he and Bartley sat down, “fancy meeting you here.” “Why, fine gentlemen, a surprise it is,” Randy feigned back. “You’re the private investigators that were at my place of employ yesterday, right?”
“Nice of you to remember us,” Bartley answered. “And who is your lady friend?” Archibald inquired. “Well, excuse my manners. This is Miss Ariel,” Randy introduced. “Miss Ariel, this is … I don’t believe I caught your names? “Archibald Barisol,” Archibald introduced, accentuating his British accent, “and this is my associate, Bartley Vautrain.”
“Pleased to make the acquaintance of you both,” she answered nervously. “Can I get you gentlemen something to drink?” the soda jerk inquired. Looking at him, his name badge said “Milton.” He didn’t look like a Milton. Still they ordered; a cherry phosphate for Archibald and a Dr. Pepper for Bartley.
As Milton got the bubbly drinks, Bartley saw him put something else into them. Delivering the drinks, Milton looked at the price list posted behind him for a minute. “Five cents each,” he requested. Archibald was feeling generous and put 10 cents on the counter to cover both drinks.
Randy pulled out his pocket watch and looked at it. “I have to go,” he informed. “Pleasure meeting you,” Ariel said as she got up, “but we must be going.” “Yes, nice seeing you and good luck in your investigation,” Randy agreed. “I should get back to the office. There’s no telling when the boss will return.” The two of them got up and walked hastily out the door.
Unfortunately, Evgenia and Fredryck met them just outside, blocking their egress. “Randy,” Evgenia said as she stopped him just outside, “fancy meeting you here.” “Yes, I saw your associates inside,” Randy informed. “If you don’t mind I have to get my lady friend home and I have to get back to work. I’m sure Jean-Paul will be back at any moment,” he informed.
Evgenia could tell that he was not expecting Jean-Paul to ever come back. “We just have a few questions,” Evgenia stalled. “And I can take your lady friend home,” Fredryck offered. “I dare say I hardly know you well enough to put her safety in your hands,” Randy objected. “You have little to fear,” Fredryck answered, “I’m engaged to be married so she’ll be quite safe with me.”
“I must say that I’d love to stay and chat but we really must be going,” Randy objected. “No, wait,” Ariel interrupted, “it’ll be okay if he takes me home.” She smiled slyly at Randy and nudged him with her elbow. Fredryck noticed and didn’t like the impression he got when Randy agreed.
As that was occurring, Bartley questioned the soda jerk on the ingredients of their drinks. Dracona had already left the aisle she was in and came up behind Randy and Ariel in the doorway of the pharmacy. Archibald noticed the conversation starting outside and thought he’d best assist. He got up and was about to leave his drink, untouched, on the counter. At that point, the soda jerk stepped back and drew a shotgun from behind the curtains under the counter.
Archibald had taken one step when the shotgun blast, both barrels, obliterated his drink and the wall beyond. Ariel shrieked at the sound of the blast and insisted on leaving immediately. But Fredryck grabbed her, refused to let her leave. At the same time, Evgenia shoved a startled Randy against the outside wall of the pharmacy. The pharmacist dove to the floor of his raised area, apparently not willing to risk life or limb.
The inside of the pharmacy became riddled with gunfire as Archibald and Bartley made quick work of the hostile soda jerk. Fredryck, Evgenia and Dracona kept Randy and Ariel pinned against the wall outside, in spite of their efforts and protests. The pharmacist crawled through the back door and escaped the battle altogether.
When it was over, they moved inside and began interrogations of Randy and Ariel. Randy claimed that he knew nothing of what was transpiring or who the crazed soda jerk was. They saw through his lying and searched him. He had a note with some cryptic letters and numbers on it.
“What’s this?” Fredryck questioned. “I don’t know,” Randy insisted. With a little more prying and threats, they learned that it was some kind of clue to where Levesque was being held. Randy apparently learned that Nero had taken Levesque and figured that they were probably going to kill him. It didn’t bother Randy because then he’d move up in the company, possibly even take it over. He claimed that all they asked him to do was to keep an eye out for strangers because Levesque had sent a telegram before they got to him.
“He’s lying,” Ariel whispered. “Shut up you stupid wench,” Randy snapped as Fredryck restrained him. “What do you know?” Archibald inquired. “Randy told me that he was involved from the start,” she informed, “his way to move up in the company. He knows exactly what the note is. See, Randy can’t remember where the train car is. It’s his reminder about where Nero and the others are.” Randy threatened her, again, but with him restrained, she started talking.
“The guy behind the soda fountain was Travis Bane. Nero was playing the pharmacist but he really knows nothing about it. He was just giving anything to the people who came in for medicine. I can tell you who is probably at the train car if you will promise to keep my name out of this mess.” They agreed.
Ariel claimed that she was only involved as a cleaning lady. Nero, the pharmacist, brought her in after the pharmacy was taken over and although she saw that they had killed people, she wasn’t directly involved in any killing. She admitted that she could see that such things had gone on but dared not cross Nero. They asked to see her handbag and she willingly turned it over to them. Inside they found unusual items, items that Bartley recognized as spell components.
“Look,” Ariel insisted, “they have the dead people at the train station. I have to go to a private train car every day, where bodies are kept, and clean so that they don’t wreak. Yes, I use a bit of magic to do it but I’m still just a glorified maid. And, Nero let me stay upstairs while I was working for him. He said it was to keep up appearances.”
“I can tell you that your friend was still alive, yesterday. If he is who they have at in the train car, I saw him and he was not in the best shape but he was still alive. I can take you there, help if you want, but you have to agree to let me go.” “Nero will kill you,” Randy informed, “and you know who he’ll send to do it.”
Tired of Randy’s interruptions, they knocked him out. Bartley began tying him up while the others continued with Ariel. They figured they would leave Randy behind, tied up and locked upstairs at the pharmacy, while they went to rescue Levesque. They’d return for him afterward.
Archibald negotiated to hear her additional information before agreeing to let her go. She agreed and offered additional information. “I can take you to the train car, tell you more about what to expect there. Nero will probably be there with Kevin Thorn. No relation to me. My name has an ‘e’ on the end.” She described Thorn and her description matched that of the man that had been watching them in the restaurant, the one that had stabbed Bartley as he ran by.
Then she mentioned Mattie, Matt Kaye, a man who was apparently fond of dead people. She informed that he could make them move, again. The last time she was there, there were 10 bodies in the train car. “And then there’s the other one.”
They could see she chilled just thinking about him. “This guy is big, probably seven and a half or eight feet tall. He looks like a skeleton with his skin just stretched across it.” She looked at them. “This is going to sound strange but, this big guy has a tail like a scorpion. Nero calls him…”
“Morbius,” Fredryck and Dracona interrupted. “Yes,” she was surprised that they knew his name but accepted it just the same. “Morbius does anything that Nero tells him to. I think Morbius is some kind of demon,” she informed. “Actually, he’s a devil,” Dracona informed. Still, with Randy secured and unconscious, the closed the pharmacy and headed for the train station.