Blood-curdling screams awaken NYPD detective Connor O’Shea and Manhattan barber Ray Brannigan, Jr. from their slumbers at 2:00am. Brannigan, staying at his mother’s home for the evening, believes the screams are coming from the home of Horace Baker, and goes outside to bang on Baker’s door. O’Shea, getting over a bout of the DTs while visiting his brother, cannot discern the location of the screams, but jumps into action nonetheless.
Connor sees Ray banging on Baker’s front door, identifies himself as a police officer, and checks the door – it is locked. As Connor runs to the back of the home, Ray notices a pile of mismatched clothes on the front stoop – a shirt, pants, hat, and mismatched shoes. There is a foul-smelling filth all over the clothing. Connor returns to the front stoop, and try as he might, cannot break down the front door. Pressed for time, O’Shea breaks the front window, tells Ray to cover the front entrance, and enters the home.
Turning on a light, detective O’Shea sees the same foul-smelling filth at the bottom of the front door, as well as what appear to be muddy, human tracks on the floor. Following the tracks in to the kitchen, Connor comes across a corpse. The victim’s flesh has turned gray and is dry, cracked and flaking. Long, unkempt tresses of white hair spill from the cadaver’s scalp and flow past the man’s waist. Seven-inch fingernails curl about the corpse’s claw-like hands. A look of terror is frozen on the man’s face. The corpse looks like an Egyptian mummy, but there is no mistaking that it was once Horace Baker, a man Connor met and spoke to earlier in the day. Looking down at the man’s hands, O’Shea notices the corpse is grasping something. As Connor pulls the corpse’s fingers open, three earthworms fall harmlessly to the floor.
O’Shea follows the muddy prints to the back door, where they end as suddenly as they began at the front. Wishing to confirm the identity of the deceased, Connor asks Ray to enter the home to view the body. Ray confirms that the corpse appears to be Horace Baker. As the two ponder the mystery of how Horace Baker aged so fast and so suddenly, they hear the sound of sirens approach. Statements are taken from both men as the coroner arrives to take away the body. Connor and Ray retire to Michael O’Shea’s home, where the two exchange stories over a bottle of whiskey. Connor pulls Ivy Morgan’s business card from his pocket, and makes an early morning call to the charismatic cult leader.
A few hours later, Connor and Ray drive to Ivy’s Morningside Heights home, and find Ivy, Jonas Markham, and Alistair Sinclair eating breakfast. The group takes a few moments to catch up, regaling each other with strange tales while Ray gives Jonas a shave and a haircut. After much consideration of what could cause a man to age so suddenly, the group decides to head back to East Flatbush to investigate the home of Horace Baker.
The East Flatbush neighborhood is alert as the investigators pull in to Michael O’Shea’s driveway. Seeing that secrecy is of paramount importance, Ray invites the other investigators to his mother’s home, where they can gain access to Horace Baker’s home through the back. Marilyn Brannigan is a gracious host, accommodating the investigators with everything from tea and cookies to corned beef sandwiches. Feigning the need to assess some yard repairs, the investigators head out back while Alistair attempts to divert the neighbors’ attention by having a cigarette out front.
Entering through the back door, the investigators take note of the muddy footprints and foul-smelling filth. Moving in to the living room, Ivy finds Horace Baker’s briefcase. Baker was a supervisor for the Hamilton Construction Company. The Hamilton Construction Company had recently been hired by the city of New York to renovate an area known as Red Hook – a dilapidated, crime-ridden Brooklyn neighborhood that is populated mostly by foreigners. Baker was supervising the surveying of several city blocks in the district.
On the coffee table, Ray finds a copy of the New York Times. Amongst the stories concerning the Blue Heaven Ballroom and Boss Archie Bonato, Ray notices a story about a body that has been found in the Red Hook neighborhood. David Clark was a surveyor for the Hamilton Construction Company, and was found murdered near Allano Boulevard and Haight Street. The story also references a 1923 disaster in Red Hook. Both Ray and Connor seem to recall a building collapse that year that killed several locals and police officers. Ivy recognizes the name of the author of the story (Trent Tucker) as one of the regulars at The Slaughtered Lamb.
Believing that Tucker can provide them more information on Red Hook, the investigators drive to Hell’s Kitchen to visit The Slaughtered Lamb. Alec Long is on hand to pour the drinks, and the investigators fill him in on the day’s events. After making a phone call, Alec informs the investigators that Trent will contact the Times and get them access to the archives.
A visit to the Times Building turns up two articles concerning the Red Hook disaster of 1923. One article outlines the increased police presence in the neighborhood, which resulted in the arrest of several foreigners for unspecified charges (although the article alludes to “pagan” rituals at a place called Stone Church). The other outlines the disaster itself, which took place when police and federal agents raided a Red Hook apartment complex looking for kidnapped children. Countless local residents and numerous police and federal agents were killed when the apartment building suddenly (and without warning) collapsed. Only one survivor, detective Thomas F. Malone, was pulled from the wreckage.
The investigators agree that finding Malone may provide insights into Red Hook and the true cause of the disaster. Detective O’Shea contacts his brother and asks about Malone. Michael does not know Malone personally, but is relatively sure he’s no longer on the force. He suggests that Connor go to police headquarters to get more info. Desiring to get a address for Malone (“perhaps from the payroll department,” suggests Ivy), the investigators drive to police headquarters, where detective O’Shea sets up a meeting with Malone’s old partner, detective Donowitz.
With the sun going down, the investigators decide to drive in to Red Hook. However, their trip is short – the inhabitants of Red Hook are leery of outsiders, and react violently to the appearance of the investigators. Not only does Jonas need to drive carefully to avoid potholes, he must veer suddenly to avoid bricks and bullets. A crowd of locals gather and run after Jonas’ car, screaming, shooting, and throwing rocks as they go. Alistair and Ray shoot in the air in an attempt to disperse the crowd, but the locals continue to follow the vehicle.
Realizing that a daytime search of Red Hook may prove more productive, the investigators leave the district without answers to their questions.
The investigators go their separate ways for what remains of the evening, but agree to meet at the Hotel Belleclaire the following morning to determine their next move…