Still stunned by the events of the previous evening, Ivy Morgan, Jonas Markham, and Ray Brannigan head down to breakfast and are greeted by the landlady, Caroline Weeden, who hands Ivy a copy of the Kingsport Chronicle and heads back to the kitchen. Skimming the front page, Ivy’s attention is immediately drawn to the headline, IT CAME FROM ABOVE! Bizarre disappearances terrorize Kingsport. Written by Julian St. Jerome, the article reports that numerous citizens were taken from the sky by, “some sinister, sky-snatching predator.” Surprised that the reporter has not tried to attribute the disappearances to something weather-related (or more rational, for that matter), she shows the article to Jonas and Ray and suggests that they pay a visit to the Chronicle.
After breakfast, the investigators head to the center of town, where they quickly find the offices of the Kingsport Chronicle. As they approach the front door, they can hear shouting from within. Entering, they find themselves in the middle of raging argument. At one end of the room stands a thin, wiry bespectacled man in his mid-twenties; at the other, an enraged, harried man with slightly graying hair.
“You’re a sensationalist idiot, Jerome – printing unsubstantiated rumors fit for a Hearst scandal rag! Now, get outta my office – you’re FIRED!”
As the young man passes the investigators, he and Ray make eye contact. Instantly, Ray recognizes him as one of the tenants he breakfasted with at Mother Gamble’s Boarding House.
The blustering, middle-aged man looks at the investigators and says, “Who the hell are you?”
Ivy introduces herself and politely inquires his name. The man introduces himself as Stanley Carter, Editor-in-Chief of the Kingsport Chronicle.
After a few moments of deep breathing, he calms down enough to tell the investigators that Julian St. Jerome, the reporter he just fired, tricked the printing room into running the front-page story seen in today’s Chronicle. Carter likes St. Jerome and thinks he’s talented. However, Carter believes he can be overzealous in his reporting, and is prone to fits of sensationalist journalism. It’s for this reason that Carter’s had to edit the majority of Julian’s recent stories, and why he had to terminate his employment.
Ivy attempts to defend St. Jerome for trying to report on what’s really happening in Kingsport, but only succeeds in enraging Stanley Carter further. He begins yelling about, “PERFECTLY RATIONAL EXPLANATIONS FOR EVERYTHING,” and, “NOT UPSETTING THE PEOPLE OF KINGSPORT WITH RUMOR AND CONJECTURE!” His face red and seething with anger, Carter orders the investigators off his premises.
Walking back to the car, the three pass an outdoor cafe and notice Julian St. Jerome sitting at a table. He signals to Ray to come over, and he, Ivy, and Jonas approach. Confirming that he knows Ray from Mother Gamble’s, St. Jerome apologizes for them having to witness the scene at the Chronicle (“Carter wouldn’t know a real story if it sat in his lap!”). When the investigators press him for information about strange events in Kingsport, St. Jerome begins speaking with a hungry look in his eyes.
“There’s something going on in Central Hill,” explains St Jerome. “This week I have reported on four different stories, all with some kind of strange angle to them, all within a few hundred yards of Central Hill Cemetery.”
“I don’t know if you’ve been reading the paper, but apart from that story last night, which got me fired, there was a fire at St. Francis Catholic Church – I have witness accounts that talk about a demon, if you can believe that; then there was a weird occurrence in the middle of the week where something ripped apart eight cats in a couple of hours – the story Carter printed suggested a wolverine, but again, witnesses told me otherwise.”
“Then back on Wednesday night there was some weird sort of break-in at the Library – except nobody broke in. The place was locked up tight as a drum and someone or something got in and trashed the place. I got a look at it and it was like a chimpanzee or something had run riot in there for the whole night – one hell of a mess!”
“I tried to convince Carter that there’s a pattern, but he won’t even listen – says I’ve got a, ‘wild imagination, not commensurate with my standing as member of the Press.’ I guess he’s right; I shouldn’t be working for a small-minded small-town rag like the Chronicle.”
“Anyway,” he says, finally drawing breath, “how can I help you – or maybe you can help me?”
Julian St. Jerome offers the investigators a 50/50 split in the profits of the sale of the story to a major newspaper if they assist him in getting to the bottom of the strange events in Kingsport. He tells the investigators that he plans to visit the cemetery and surrounding area to see what he can find. He suggests that the investigators look in to any leads they may have, and meet him back at the Sea’s Harvest at eight o’clock that evening to compare notes. Wishing them good luck, Julian stands up from the table and leaves the cafe.
With midday quickly approaching, the investigators decide to visit St. Francis Catholic Church to see if they can find any clues. The church is almost entirely gutted, and portions of the floor are too badly burnt and unstable to walk upon. Looking into the basement through the hole that Father Alighiero claims the demon came through, Ivy, Jonas, and Ray can see the charred remains of hundreds of prayer books and hymnals. Packed nearly to the ceiling, it would not be difficult to believe that faulty wiring could quickly ignite a hot, quick-burning fire.
Unable to get a closer look at the basement of the church, the investigators weigh their options. Ivy, wanting to find out if the mysterious fog or other strange events have even been reported in Kingsport in the past, suggests they look for the local historical society. Ray and Jonas, neither of whom can come up with a better idea, agree, and the three jump back in the car.
After nearly an hour of driving about town, the investigators stop in front of the Kingsport Historical Society Museum on Carter Street. Entering, they notice an elderly man wandering about, watering the plants. Ivy clears her throat to get the man’s attention, and introduces herself. He introduces himself as Aaron Hart, museum curator. Ivy begins to ask him questions about strange events in Kingsport’s past, but quickly realizes that the curator is showing signs of senility. However, he seems lucid enough to tell the investigators that they are unable to access the museum library and periodicals without paying fifteen dollars for an associate membership. Ivy and Ray pay the curator fifteen dollars each, and after a few minutes are handed back membership cards in the name of Ivan Moran and Ralph Pennington. Ivy and Ray take their cards and begin walking upstairs to the museum library. Jonas, who has just noticed that the curator has a revolver conspicuously tucked in the back of his trousers, decides to stay downstairs to keep an eye on the old man.
Ivy begins poring over years of bound Kingsport Chronicles, while Ray peruses the bookshelves for some account of the town’s history. He comes across an old, cracked leather-bound tome entitled The Ponape Scriptures. He calls Ivy over and the two begin skimming the faded, yellowing pages. The book is an account of a journey Captain Abner Ezekiel Hoag and his crew made to the Caroline Islands sometime around 1734. Hoag describes a tribe of natives that worship an underwater deity, and the rituals they performed to summon denizens from the deep. Enthralled by the tome, both Ivy and Ray find it difficult to stop reading. By sheer power of will, Ray is able to remove his eyes from the text and pull Ivy away. Looking at his watch, Ray realizes that nearly five hours have past.
Heading down stairs, Ivy and Ray see Jonas sitting in a chair, watching Aaron Hart walk about the museum watering plants that he’d watered fifteen minutes earlier. They call a polite farewell to the curator and leave the museum. Not wishing to be late for their meeting with Julian St. Jerome, the investigators make their way to the Sea’s Harvest.
Eight o’clock comes and goes as the investigators sit at a table at the back of the restaurant, without a sign of Julian St. Jerome. Ivy seems convinced that something sinister has happened to the reporter. Ray and Jonas are content waiting a while longer for St. Jerome to arrive. By nearly ten o’clock, the investigators are all concerned. Ray suggests that they stop by Mother Gamble’s Boarding House to see if Julian made it home safely.
Eager to know St. Jerome’s fate, the investigators jump in the Daimler and head towards Mother Gamble’s. As they turn on to Circle Court, Ivy slams on the breaks. Fifty feet in front of them is a horrible scene – a giant spider web blocks the street. A taxi is caught in the web, its engine still running; two passengers and the cabbie are trying to extricate themselves from the vehicle. Horrified onlookers stand shocked, rooted to the ground like statues, as an enormous purple spider moves across the web towards the cab. Acting quickly, Ivy leaves the vehicle and runs towards the taxi. Ray, grabbing his twelve-gauge shotgun, follows. Jonas reaches for his rifle and approaches cautiously.
Within moments, Ivy is pulling the passengers from the taxi. The driver, not looking where he’s going, exits the cab and backs into the web. Ray raises the shotgun and fires; the unharmed spider notices Ray, jumps off the web, and moves towards him. Jonas, the shock of seeing a giant spider in the street too much for his fragile psyche, stands frozen.
Ivy moves the passengers to safety, and runs towards the stunned onlookers. The cabby struggles, further entangling him in the web. Ray retreats while unloading both barrels of his shotgun into the spider. Jonas is a statue.
The spider lunges and shoots a web at Ray, narrowly missing the barber. Ivy pulls the stunned onlookers to safety and makes her way to the cab driver. Ray hides behind the car, loading his weapon, while Jonas stares blankly.
Ivy pulls out a knife and starts cutting the cabby’s clothes off. Ray shoots the spider, knocking it back a few feet. The spider, seeing Jonas close by, entangles the farmer in a web. Jonas, finally in control of his faculties, finds himself unable to fire the rifle stuck to his side and retreats.
Ivy cuts through the cabby’s shirt and begins to slice through his pants. Ray moves towards the web, reloading his shotgun. The spider shoots a web around Ray’s legs, knocking him over. With the use of only one hand, Jonas crouches behind a tree, desperately trying to rip through his bindings.
Ivy frees the cabby while Ray, flat on the ground with the enormous spider moving closer, carefully aims the shotgun at its head. Unleashing the fury of the twelve-gauge at close range, Ray watches the spider’s eye clusters explode in a torrent of green ooze. The beast falls to the ground and all is silent.
Jonas is finally able to rip through his bonds, and with Ivy approaches Ray, who has cut his trousers to extricate himself from the webs around his legs. As the three walk towards the carcass of the spider, it blinks out of existence, leaving only the web across Circle Court. The silence is suddenly broken by the sound of approaching police sirens. The investigators have no time to leave the scene or agree to a cover-story before the police car screeches to a halt.
Officers Steven Lord, Otis White, and another man exit the police car. The man, who is middle-aged, barrel-chested, and wearing a police uniform, calmly delegates tasks to the other officers and walks towards the investigators. He identifies himself as Chief Crane and asks Ivy what happened. She attempts to provide a quick cover-story that would make the scene seem perfectly rational. He gives Ivy and the other investigators an appraising look and walks to the web blocking the street.
After walking up and down the web, periodically taking out a pen and touching the sticky substance, he looks briefly at the taxi and walks back to the investigators. “Why don’t you come back with me to the station, where we can speak privately,” he says, calmly. After telling officers Lord and White to get statements from all witnesses, Crane gets in the Daimler with the investigators drives to the station.
At the station, Chief Crane pours coffee for everyone and sits in his chair. “Why don’t you start by telling me why there’s a gigantic spider web across Circle Court,” he begins, “and then you can tell me what is going on.”
In turn, each investigator tells the Chief about their encounter with the spider, as well as their belief that it may be connected with other recent, strange events in Kingsport. Crane listens to each calmly and quietly, and chooses his words carefully when he speaks.
“I believe you,” he says. “Unfortunately, I don’t think this is something that the Kingsport police department can handle alone, and we’d like to avoid any outside involvement.”
“You see, we’re a proud town. We don’t like getting Arkham involved in our problems if we can avoid it. If you would consent to help me get to the bottom of these strange occurrences, I will provide my cooperation and any resources you may need. In the meantime, I’ll need to meet with Mayor Hoag and let him know the situation.”
The name Hoag seems to jog Ray and Ivy’s memories. Ray asks Chief Crane if Mayor Hoag was related to Captain Abner Ezekiel Hoag. Taken aback but nonetheless impressed, Crane answers in the affirmative. Coming to the realization that there may be a connection between the name Hoag and the events of the last week, the investigators warn the police chief to be careful and make a mental note to visit the mayor the following day.
Chief Crane rises from his chair. “I’ve asked for your assistance and have promised you resources, but our arrangement will be short-lived if you end up on the wrong side of the law. Please, don’t betray my trust, and make sure to contact me directly if things get out of hands.”
Taking their leave of Chief Crane, the investigators make their way to Mother Gamble’s Boarding House to see if Julian St. Jerome made it home safely. The house is dark when they arrive; Mother Gamble’s nine o’clock curfew is nearly two hours old. Not wanting to wake the stern landlady and uncertain of what room St. Jerome was renting, the investigators try to make their way around the perimeter of the house stealthily. Unfortunately, the extreme dark and lack of familiarity with their surroundings leads to the investigators to make an unholy clamor, which wakes the landlady and some of the tenants. When Mother Gamble comes outside to confront the investigators, Ivy tries to convince her to check in on Julian St. Jerome. But when the landlady sees Ray Brannigan, she becomes enraged and storms in to the house to call the police.
Within minutes, Chief Crane is on the scene, pulling the investigators aside to chastise them for getting into trouble within a half hour of their last conversation. He believes that he can convince Mother Gamble to drop her complaint, but insists that the investigators return to the Shoremist Inn to avoid further trouble. Not wishing to get on the wrong side of Chief Crane, the investigators comply.
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