Excerpts from the journal of Connor Galloway, an employee of Orpheus and member of Crucible 7.
Richmond Virginia, October 9, 2013.
Our first outing last night was not exactly successful, but I think it’s allayed some fears we had about what we’d be dealing with.
We had a company car waiting for us when we left. Dahlia had decided to project and came along in spirit form. Funnily enough, with the other two ‘Sleeping’ that left me, the only foreigner mind you, to drive us to the club! I laid out the research that Markus had done on the passenger seat so he could read through it and tell us what he’d found. Two gang-related deaths and one accident nearby. On the drive we started noticing a few ghosts around, walking aimlessly down the footpath or into oblivious oncoming traffic. Of course the other passers-by and the cars moved right through them. A truly strange sight, I’m pretty sure I flinched every time half-expecting the PLE to be thrown to the ground.
Parking a block away from the club we all hopped out of the car and were greeted by the sight of a rough looking ghost with a detectives badge on his belt. He stood in the parking lot, his eyes fixed on us. Markus walked over and tried talking to him, but he kept rambling on, saying, “I don’t have any more to sell.” and murmuring something about getting to the river. Dahlia dismissed it, saying, “This is a whole different mission.” Dan agreed that we should move on so we headed to the club.
$15 to get in and it wasn’t even 9 o’clock. Oh well. I found the owner, Paulo, working the bar and introduced myself as officially as I could. “Hi, I’m Connor Galloway. I represent the Orpheus Group.” He poured me a beer and seemed relieved that Orpheus had finally sent someone. He was very helpful and answered my questions about the mysterious roses that had been appearing before leading me out back to the carpark where he had seen the bleeding bouquet.
Between the four of us we couldn’t spot anything odd behind the club so we headed back inside and I approached the DJ booth to question DJ Maestro (great name). The kid was probably about Dan’s age and I could tell he wasn’t really taking me seriously but when I mentioned Orpheus he perked up. He even removed his headphones. Turns out he didn’t know much more than Paulo, although he did mention that at the time the disturbances started there had been a very loud shouting match between some man and his woman. He also mentioned some regulars who were ‘Deadheads’, Pigment users, who were drawn to the club because of it’s haunted reputation.
The four of us moved off to discuss what we’d found so far and I expressed a theory that it might all be a gimmick to drum up business. Despite the lack of evidence the others aren’t convinced and point out that Paulo is the one who called Orpheus to investigate.
The club had picked up a bit by then and as we talked we spotted the group of Deadheads the DJ had told us about. They ordered ‘the usual’ from the bar and then found themselves a booth. They hadn’t been seated long when one of them glanced in our direction and it was obvious from his reaction that he could see my projected colleagues. He bolted upright and scrambled to grab his friend’s arm so that he could turn him in our direction. The three of them sat there staring at us and so we decided to try asking them a few questions.
So not to spook them completely I asked Dahlia to come with me and to sing a calming song. It worked a treat and soon I was sitting across a table from three gangsters having a polite conversation. To be honest I was pretty scared of them, but Dahlia’s voice seemed to be keeping them in check. It might have even been calming me somewhat. Either way, they had some pretty interesting things to say.
Turns out that a PLE has been visiting the club a few nights a week and that he stands there shouting something before leaving. The roses are found wherever he was standing. We left the Deadheads’ table just as I started to think they might have some pigment to spare… I’d been trying really hard to focus on the mission but i could feel that itch in my arm. I’m sure it’ll go away soon. It fucking better.
We hung around to get a glimpse of this PLE and sure enough, at about 11pm, we saw a silvery face phase through the backdoor. He stepped through completely and we could see that his body was broken up pretty bad. One leg dragged behind him and he had his arms wrapped tightly across his chest. We watched as he slowly moved through the oblivious patrons working his way to the middle of the dance floor. There he stopped and looked up at the mezzanine. His mouth opened up a little to widely, as if his jaw was dislocated, and shouted one word, “SYLVIA!” The sound seemed to vibrate through the air, causing the spirit world to quiver and it raised the hairs on the back of my neck.
Dahlia was the first to approach, this time humming a soft tune that caused the PLE to stop shouting and turn towards her. “Who is Sylvia?” she asked, “what are you doing here?” He looked confused for a moment and dropped eye contact, replying to each question with, “I… Can’t remember.”
Markus stepped in and probed, “Were you in a car accident?” and I’m not sure whether it was the question or Markus himself but the PLE seemed to get angry for a second.
“I Don’t Remember!” he insisted and began to turn away from them.
I felt like I needed to get in there and so I ran off to the bathroom to project. Locking myself in one of the stalls I brought my legs up to sit cross-legged on the closed toilet. I was surprised to find that I projected almost immediately and dashed back into the main room.
It looked as though Markus had been forced to mesmerize the PLE to stop him from leaving. Its eyes were fixed on the glowing red light that Markus held in his hand. I noticed briefly that the Deadheads were watching the whole thing transpire with a mixture of shock and glee. I moved in closer and tried my best to ask simple, non-pointed questions. It seemed to me like the PLE had some kind of ‘toddler-brain’.
“Did you have a fight with Sylvia?” He looked me in the eyes and I saw a spark of life there, “I think so…”
“Are the roses for Sylvia?” At the word roses he definitely perked up and nodded slowly.
“What is your name?” Dahlia offered. He thought for a while before replying, “Chris… Overby.”
We asked a bunch more questions. Where does Sylvia live? Somewhere nice. Do you want us to take the roses to her? No. Do you want us to go with you to give her the roses? No.
We were running out of ideas. Exactly how were we supposed to help this PLE ‘Pass on’? I think we were all getting a little frustrated and feeling somewhat out of our depth. Eventually Dahlia said, “I’m just gonna tell him… Chris, you’re dead!”
It turns out it wasn’t exactly what he wanted to hear. His eyes grew dark and his drooping jaw snapped open and closed as he turned away from us, his form fading. Soon he had melted down into the floor, congealing into a single red rose.
I quickly returned to my body so that I could get to the flower before it was danced on and then we all agreed we’d missed our chance tonight. The only thing for it was to try again tomorrow. We figured perhaps Lisa would have some advice on how to help this PLE, sorry Chris Overby, pass on. Markus also figured he’d probably be able to track down Sylvia.
Before we left I went to the bar and held the flower up for Paulo to see. He looked somewhat uneasy about its appearance and I told him we were making progress. On the way back to the car we passed the scruffy detective again, still rambling.
On the drive home Markus commented on the strange fact that everyone we talked to had said something along the lines of ‘roses are the kind of thing a man gives to a lady when he’s done wrong’. I posited the theory that a PLE with a strong belief may unintentionally leave psychic imprints on people who are nearby a lot, such as Paulo and the DJ. At the very least it’s a good clue as to why the PLE may be hanging around.
As we were nearing the interstate I spotted something strange. A large building with a sign out front that said Church of the Sacred Mother and depicted two hands holding an anatomically drawn heart. A line outside the door was populated by regular folk as well as spooks. I didn’t mention the sight to the others because we were all distracted by the sight of the single red star (or maybe wisp) up above.
It was still there when I finally got home and it may have just been my imagination but it seemed bigger than the night before.