Excerpts from the journal of Connor Galloway, an employee of Orpheus and member of Crucible 7.
Richmond Virginia, October 18, 2013.
Last night’s stake-out wasn’t like what you see in the movies. We found the house in a nice area downtown. The houses were mostly two-storeys with adjoining garages and well manicured lawns. Perfectly middle-class.
Lehto’s house stood out as soon as it came into view. The grass had been left to grow long and the mailbox was overflowing with unread letters. A light was on in one of the upper rooms but otherwise the house was dark. We pulled up across the road and decided to take a slow approach. Dan slunk across the road and did a quick check around the house. From the car we could see he was having a hard time seeing in the windows but eventually he returned to the front door.
Using his Inhabit horror he appeared to melt into the wood of the door and after a few seconds it swung open. We could see him reappear inside and as he moved deeper into the house Markus made his way across the road to stand at the door. After a few moments Dan reappeared in the doorway and signaled that Dahlia and I should come over.
Projecting in the car we then went to enter the house. As we crossed the road I watched closely as Dan placed his hands on the wall of the house and close his eyes. By the time we reached the door he had merged into the wood and a blue ripple spread out across the spirit-version of the house. It seemed that Dan had possessed the whole damn thing! As we stepped through the front door it closed and locked itself behind us which raised the hairs on the back of my neck.
Inside the living room was barely illuminated by moonlight but we could see that the house was a mess. Pieces of paper were haphazardly covering the walls, each marked with a charcoal drawing. Books lay open or in piles on every available surface and were surrounded by screes of notes. Further pieces of prose were written on the walls themselves, some of them were nonsense while others seemed to read like poetry.
As we took in the manic scene, trying our best to keep quiet, I heard a voice from upstairs say, “Which crucible are you with?” I could see a set of ascending stairs down a hallway and made my way towards them. “Oh, that many?” the voice continued, “Tell your friends they don’t need to worry. I’ve been expecting you.” It seemed as though Dan had already made some form of contact so I called up the stairs, “Lehto, we’re coming up the stairs now. Don’t do anything crazy.”
We found Mathew Lehto with his hands already up, dressed in boxers and a robe. The television was on and a cup of coffee steamed slowly on a low table next to a gun. He’d obviously backed away from it so I started talking. Since he’d already made it clear that he knew we were coming I didn’t want to assume a lack of knowledge about our mission on his part. I told him the truth about our mission, that we were sent to check up on him and find out what involvement he had with his friends’ deaths. As we talked he seemed to calm somewhat and he took a seat in front of the TV. I congealed a chair for myself so we could remain eye-to-eye, although he seemed to have a hard time focusing on any of us.
It turned out that he had lost control of his ability to forebode and that visions had been coming to him unbidden. He said that because of the frequency he also had a hard time telling when now was and if things were real or simply part of a vision. It seemed that all the drawings and text scattered around the house were things that he had seen in the past or future. Lehto told us that he had foreseen the deaths of his crucible members and was unable to change the future when it counted. That one event had driven home a belief that once a future had been seen it couldn’t be changed. He’d also seen the deaths of his fraternity friends, but felt powerless to change those events. The referrals that he’d made to Orpheus were a legitimate attempt to help their families move on.
Dahlia asked him about his self-medication and it was at that point that I noticed the needles in the corner. She told him that he needed to get professional help and mentioned Orpheus. He scoffed at the name. “Orpheus? Help me?!” he laughed bitterly, “those bastards only help themselves.” He carried on to tell us that he didn’t skim any money off his jobs and that it was Orpheus who should be under more scrutiny. As we spoke Dan materialised out of the TV screen to join us.
I’d heard enough, he obviously wanted to be left alone and didn’t seem like he posed a threat to the public. I told him as much and added that I thought we could leave him be. He gave us permission to check through the drawings and notes before we left but asked us not to take anything. He also asked to speak privately with Dahlia before we left. I gave her a look and she nodded that she would be fine.
I quickly went back to the car and physically entered the house this time in order to take some photos with my phone. Having inhabited the house Dan was able to show us to all the most interesting items. There was a bunch of crazy stuff which I’ll just list here.
- The walls of the downstairs bathroom had “SHE IS COMING” written all over them.
- A sketchbook depicted a flying ship bathed in electricity, each page had the ship in a different time period and place. The last page had the words “who is Desmond Clarke?” written in the centre.
- The words “what happens when Lehto gets mad?” was written in large letters on the wall of the room where he sat.
- Another sketch book titled “The war never to be” was filled with drawings of Richmond burning and there were tanks in the streets. One page had a close up of a crow with the sentence “A feast
for crowsa crow.”
- A stack of papers with each saying “Stygia Lost” or “Stygia Rebuilt”.
- A notebook with the words “Of stone and wood” on the cover, filled with stream of consciousness text.
- Sheet music for something called “The Orphan Grinder’s Song.”
- “CORNELIUS IS NOT REAL”
- A few poems: One Red sister star. Saturnalia, Grandmother, Oblivion.
- and: Awoken by Tempest
Alive beyond death
A throne and its Empress
Who never drew breath
There were a lot of charcoal drawings too. They covered an entire wall in the living room and there were a lot of images of lanterns and scythes. Some other pictures that stood out were:
- A steamboat run ashore on a river bank. People were laying in the mud holding their heads.
- A huge silver wolf whose jaws were shaped like a bear trap.
- A tree with a spider in its branches and a monster chewing on the roots. The words “am I weaver or worm” written below.
- An immaculate recreation of Fantastic Mr Fox.
The most interesting drawing we found was an incredibly realistic depiction of Tyler Prator using a Horror. We didn’t really know what it meant, whether Prator was a projector or the picture was from a vision of the future or an alternate timeline. Anyway, we headed back to the office. On the drive home Dahlia told us what Lehto had said to her, “When you lose everything, hold on to anything.” She’d also taken one of his syringes with the intent of finding out what he’d been taking. With a bit of trepidation she also mentioned that she wanted to find a more experienced Banshee at Orpheus who might be able to prove that foreboding hadn’t made Lehto mad. At least not by itself.
I went straight to my bunk when I got back to Orpheus as it was pretty late. I didn’t write up the report until this morning. That’s the benefit of sleeping at work, all that administration has been sorted and I’m just now heading off for breakfast.
Richmond Virginia, October 18, 2013.
Prator came to see us first thing as usual but this time Lisa was with him. I gave a quick recount of what I’d written up in the official report and gave my opinion on Lehto’s situation. Prator seemed genuinely saddened when Dahlia said that she suspected schizophrenia and suggested that we go ahead and bring him in so he could receive medical and psychological help. Dahlia agreed that he needed the assistance but Dan raised the point that he probably wouldn’t go easily. We stressed the degree to which he distrusted Orpheus to which Prator replied, “You guys are equipped to deal with this sort of thing.”
“What’s your shade, Prator?” Dan asked bluntly, catching his target by surprise. He looked down and said, “I guess you were going to find out sooner or later,” before regaining his usual composure.
“I’m a poltergeist,” he answered, “I was in Lehto’s crucible but don’t think that that means he’ll want to see me.”
Obviously he didn’t like the suggestion that he should be involved in bringing Lehto in. “I don’t want to pull rank on you guys but I do not do field work anymore.”
Before Prator and Lisa left Dahlia asked after an experienced Banshee to which Lisa replied that she was in fact one. Her experiences with Foreboding over the last five years hadn’t had any adverse effects on her, which clearly relieved Dahlia.
With very few other options we discussed how we might bring Lehto in in the safest way possible. Dahlia got in touch with Dr. Klein in order to get some sedating drug that we could hopefully administer before Lehto could project. Our backup plan involved Markus teleporting, with Lehto’s spirit, directly back to Orpheus.
Dr. Klein showed up with a child-like grin on his face and led us to a plain conference room where he invited Dan and Markus to step through the walls. Naturally Markus tried blinking straight through but after he’d vanished for the usual split second of travel he simply reappeared where he had been standing but with a puzzled look on his face. Apparently the company had discovered materials that had a strong presence in the spiritual world. Spooks could pass through these walls no more than a man could step through concrete. Dr. Klein told us that once Lehto arrived we would be able to keep his ghost here with no risk of him running away. The doctor swapped the door’s sign from ‘Conference Room 4’ to ‘Special Projects.’
Expecting a confrontation with Lehto we thought it best that we all went along in spirit form. Dahlia and I went to the yoga room and projected before meeting the others at the car. On the drive over I grew more and more anxious about possibly having to face off against a projector with three years worth of training. I caught myself biting my fingernails and let out a nervous laugh at the thought that the nails I was biting weren’t all that real.
My worries were soon proved to be for naught as we arrived back at Lehto’s house and made our way back up the stairs to the sound of the TV. We found him sitting in the same chair, drinking another cup of coffee. He hadn’t changed since the night before but a suitcase stood beside his chair. When we entered the room he stood and said, “You guys will be the death of me.”
“Do you still have the gun?” I asked him, to which he simply reached into his robe and presented it to me, butt-first. His eyes were downcast but he came with us without a fight.
I breathed a sigh of relief a that point but when he spoke my heart dropped again.
“Do you even know what you’re doing?” he started, “they have a word for this you know… Kidnapping.”
Other than that the ride back was silent. At Orpheus he dropped his suitcase in the conference room Dr. Klein had prepared and then went with the doctor to be placed in a cryo-tube.
I checked in on him a few times over the course of the afternoon but he wasn’t exactly very talkative. I’m not sure why I kept going. I’d tried to tell everyone that he posed no danger yet still we were asked to bring him in… I only took the lead because I wanted to keep my crucible safe in what I thought would be a very dangerous confrontation. Maybe I should’ve let Lehto go. Just opened the car door on the way back and told him to run.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.