Ivy Morgan and Cuthbert Sorensen have been invited by Professor Rudolph Pearson to his office at Columbia University at 10:00am. Pearson, who has been asked to be on the lookout for able-bodied parapsychologists or other experts in the occult, has a business proposal to discuss with the investigators, and feels that Ms. Morgan and Dr. Sorensen would benefit from an introduction.
Cuthbert and his assistant, Mr. Thomas Parkhill, are sitting in the outer office when Ivy arrives. The three introduce themselves and make small talk until Pearson opens his door and invites them in to his inner office.
Professor Pearson has been contacted by his friend, Mars Bickle, a parapsychologist based in Arkham. Bickle was offered a research job by Miskatonic University that he is unable to accept, and recommended Dr. Sorensen, whom he is acquainted professionally, as a possible replacement. Pearson explains that the job is of the “observe and report” variety, and could take up to a month to complete. He feels that Sorensen, who employs the most up-to-date film and sound-recording equipment, could utilize a person with Ivy’s brains, charm, and experience with “things that go bump in the night,” most effectively. Cuthbert and Ivy agree to the partnership, and are advised to meet Harvey Wainscott, Miskatonic University President, at 11:00am the following morning.
Ivy, Cuthbert, and Thomas leave Pearson’s office and head to their vehicles. Ivy suggests that they get lunch before making the drive to Arkham. The three investigators enjoy lunch at the Empire Room at the Waldorf Astoria. While eating, Ivy notices something strange about Mr. Parkhill – he seems to be wearing a partial mask over half of his face. Cuthbert notices it as well. Both are aware of the prosthetic tin-masks that veterans of the Great War wear to hide disfiguring injuries to their faces, and refrain from making it a topic of discussion during the meal.
As they leave the Waldorf Astoria, Cuthbert offers to pick Ivy up at her home so they can drive to Arkham together. Ivy refuses the accommodation, stating that she does not know Cuthbert or Thomas, and would prefer to drive herself. She suggests that they meet at the Tilden Arms Hotel in Arkham later in the evening, and drives back to her Morningside Heights home to pack. Cuthbert and Thomas get in their truck and begin the drive to Arkham.
The drive is uneventful. As they pass Boston, however, the weather begins to turn. The rain is heavy, and as they near the Aylesbury pike, it is coming down in sheets. Much to their chagrin, Cuthbert and Thomas find the road to Arkham closed, and are forced to continue onward, looking for an alternate route. The drive down the dirt road is difficult – there is no light (expect the frequent lighting strikes that momentarily expose their isolated surroundings) and the rain is making visibility difficult.
As Thomas is attempting to navigate the dark road, a sudden burst of lighting brings the scenes of a recent accident into sharp relief. With only a moment to react, Thomas is able to avoid the wreckage and steer the truck into a drainage ditch, where it rests with its front tire dangling off the edge of a steep cliff. He and Cuthbert jump out of the truck and grab some rope from the cargo hold. Quickly attaching one end of the rope to the bumper and another to a nearby tree, the two men are able to slowly back the truck away from the cliff without incident. Entering the cargo hold, they notice that several pieces of equipment have become dislodged, and a camera has sustained heavy damage.
When they’ve assessed the damage in the cargo hold, Thomas and Cuthbert grab some flashlights, exit the vehicle and look up at the road. A truck appears to have run into a covered bridge. The two investigators are about to walk up the slope to survey the scene, when they see a pair of headlights quickly approaching. The area is briefly exposed in another burst of lightning, and a Daimler Double-Six slams into the back of the wrecked truck.
Running up, Thomas and Cuthbert see the door of the Daimler open. A young woman exits the vehicle, holding her hand to her forehead. Turning to face them, Ivy Morgan swears. She looks at the damage to her vehicle (the front end of the Daimler is wedged under the truck, which has become further wedged into the covered bridge), and swears again. Catching her bearings, she notices Cuthbert and Thomas and asks what has happened.
The three carefully approach the wreckage of the truck – Thomas walks to the passenger-side door while Cuthbert walks up on the driver’s side. Opening the driver’s door, Cuthbert and Ivy can see a body slumped over the steering wheel. On closer observation, they notice a shard of glass from the windshield jutting from the driver’s neck. Copious amounts of blood and the lack of a pulse tell Ivy that the driver is dead. Pulling the body from the car and searching its belongings, Cuthbert finds the driver’s wallet and identifies him as Samuel Falk, of Arkham, Massachusetts.
Thomas opens the passenger door and finds the seat empty. Opening the glove compartment, he finds a few maps, but nothing of real interest. As he shines his flashlight at the ground, Thomas notices footprints in the mud. Following them around the back of the truck, he notices that they are joined by what appear to be claw marks, as well as ruts in the ground that imply something heavy being pulled on the ground. Looking in to the cargo hold of the truck, Thomas sees fresh scratches in the floor and a quarter-sized hole in the roof. The edges of the hole appear burnt.
The investigators reconvene at the cargo hold and look at the surrounding tracks. Cuthbert notices something else on the ground – a pile of bound papers. They appear waterlogged and unreadable. However, under the shelter of the cargo hold, he is able to find a legible page. In it, he reads of Salai, a possible devotee or pupil of Leonardo (da Vinci?), whose lack of notoriety in the shadow of his master had driven him to do dark things. Cuthbert calls out to the other investigators and they begin to look around for more papers. Again, most pages have been destroyed by the storm, but several more readable pages are found.
As they return to the cargo hold to put the legible pages together, a voice interrupts them from behind.
“What have you done to that man?” yells a short man over the clamor, as he climbs down from his horse-drawn wagon.