USW: Tip the World Over on Its Side

Session 25

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The misty shape coalesces into a black form — a woman in Victorian mourning garb, with heavy veils over her face. Dr. Wei sighs and turns to Jones, Kevin, and Leah, indicating that he’s probably not going to get anything out of her. He asks about Leah’s friend, but the spectral woman doesn’t seem to know anything about her. Dr. Wei explains that she’s a ghoul, a ghostly mourner, and will probably only know questions about death and the dead. Kevin asks about suspicious activity, and the woman doesn’t specifically know anything, while Jones and Leah both ask about dead loved ones; Jones asks about an old Air Force buddy who died back in Somalia, while Leah asks about her mother — the woman doesn’t know them, either, and suspects they have “passed on.” When asked about Iggy, she says she doesn’t know him. The woman then fades, and the bowl is empty.

Dr. Wei apologizes, suspecting that the ghoul reacted to the cow blood in the bowl. It’s impossible to predict what a ghost might want, though. Kevin notes that they might be able to catch a drunk with alcohol, and Dr. Wei agrees to try the ritual again. Kevin heads down the street to a liquor store, and upon his return, Dr. Wei fills the bowl with rotgut. After a few minutes of waiting, a misty shape again forms, but this time coalesces into a heavily-swaddled Hispanic man, probably an vagrant. He leans down by the bowl and begins scooping liquor into his mouth with his hand. Dr. Wei again asks about Leah’s friend, but the man seems out of it and doesn’t seem to be aware of her. The only thing he really notes is that some people enter, but fewer leave — those that leave sometimes exit from the front or the back. As for the building next door, all of those who enter eventually leave.

The vagrant ghost similarly dissipates with little fanfare, leaving the group to discuss these matters. With nothing further to be done, Dr. Wei takes his leave, although he notes that he will poke around and see if he can find anything about this strange building. If they need anything more from him, feel free to contact him. Kevin invites him to his taco night on Saturday, and Dr. Wei says he will probably be there.

After Dr. Wei leaves, the group decides to investigate the adjacent building. As they return to the sidewalk, Kevin passes near the door of 811 Wilshire and it opens. They decide not to enter, however, but at least they can bypass the door if necessary. Since the neighboring building requires people to be buzzed up, Leah loiters outside and finally catches someone entering, convincing them that she misplaced her key and needs to get back in the building. Once she enters, she wastes time investigating her purse until the man who let her in takes the elevator; she then opens the door for Jones and Kevin. They proceed to the second floor and take the skyway to 811 Wilshire. Kevin focuses and notes that the city’s holes stop at 811 Wilshire; they persist even as close as the skyway joining the two buildings. They open the doors to the 811 Wilshire mezzanine, and while the doors open without incident, there is a guard desk with one of the guards in white uniforms sitting at it. He glowers at the three of them as they peer into the mezzanine, and Leah waves as they close the doors.

Deciding that they don’t want to push their luck by entering the building again, Jones drives everyone back to his house so they can return to their cars and go their separate ways. Kevin brings up the prospect of inviting members of the local occult underground so as to keep on friendly terms with people. They mention Clark, and Leah texts him, but doesn’t think he’ll come. (He texts back saying he’ll see if he can make it, although he does ask for Kevin’s address.) The prospect of inviting Tyrannicide arises, but no one ever commits to the idea. Mabel has already been invited. They do decide to invite the American Dream, however, and Kevin tells Leah to invite Bex as well. She figures she might invite Lorenzo, although she’ll think about it. Kevin mentions the prospect of Jones inviting Detective Willett, but after some discussion — largely about his upcoming Mexico trip — he seems sullen about the idea and vetoes it. Leah asks about inviting Jane, and he also says, “No.” In terms of business tomorrow, Kevin says he’ll investigate the records at City Hall tomorrow about the building. Jones drives Kevin home, and afterward, goes walking on the beach. Between two houses, he comes across an unkempt old homeless man being harassed by two college kids; he manages to defuse the situation by engaging them about sports, distracting them from the homeless guy long enough for him to scurry away. After they wander away, Jones continues his vigil for a while, walking the beach. When he finds nothing further, he heads home.

At home, Jones tries to call some friends and see if they can point him in a direction to learn anything about 811 Wilshire, but they don’t know anything.

Leah is interrupted from her evening activities from a phone call from an unknown number. She answers it to find it is The Dealer. He wishes to apologize for any initial impressions she may have of him, and indicate that he wants to talk to her about something. He does not feel comfortable discussing it over the phone, and she has to meet him alone, somewhere semi-private. The The King’s Court does not know he is meeting her, and he would prefer to keep it that way. They agree on the backroom of Chakras at about noon.

The next day, Kevin heads to City Hall and pokes around. The building’s records seem to be in order, but the owners on record appear to be dead Indonesian businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen and some Azerbaijani holding company called EL Holding. Clearly a little odd. He sends a text to Jones to let him know that the records check out.

Leah is getting ready for her day and contacts Kevin to let him know that she’s meeting The Dealer. The Dealer won’t come if he’s watching, but would he be able to hang around nearby? He says he can. He heads over around 11 AM, and hides in a “hole.”

Leah also gets the distinct impression she’s being watched, sometime a little after 10 AM. She can’t determine anything else about it, although she’s become aware that she can sense people watching her as of yesterday. The feeling doesn’t go away until she arrives at Chakras.

The Dealer arrives shortly after Leah, and Leah makes note that he’s been watching her. He chuckles enigmatically, then explains his purpose. He would be interested in investing in her eventual corporate aspirations, although that is not the primary purpose of his visit. He wishes to talk about her father. The King of Scales saw fit to send Jasper away to gain his domain, even though killing him probably would have been the easier option. The Dealer wasn’t party to the deal with Iggy, but the general idea was that Iggy got Jasper out of the King’s domain, and Iggy got to leave town with no trouble after having built up enough of a life for himself that he had something to throw away. The Dealer further wishes to convey that the King’s Court had no method of interacting with her father, as he was unaware of his occult power, and could not be certain of his trustworthiness. As such, he was perhaps removed unwisely. As far as he knows, Jasper is in Algeria, although it’s possible he’s moved in the meantime as the King’s Court is not keeping tabs on him. He definitely doesn’t know where Iggy is; not keeping track of him was part of the bargain Iggy struck with the King of Scales.

Leah finishes by asking when she’ll get her map and pipe, and The Dealer indicates that she’ll get them by the auction as she asked, probably around whenever tickets get printed. With nothing further, The Dealer takes his leave and says he’ll be in touch.

Leah texts Kevin and Kevin calls her back, although his voice is distorted. He directs her to a spot about a block away and tries to pull her into one of his “holes,” but the act of leaning out dislodges him enough that he spills back onto the street. Fortunately, no one other than Leah sees him doing so. Leah conveys what The Dealer told her, and they agree to have a meeting tonight, at her house, around 5 PM. They’ll let Jones know when he’s off work. Discussing Jones segues into speculation about his love life, given how sullen he seemed to be when the topics of Willett and Jane were mentioned last evening, and Kevin notes that Mabel already invited Jane to his party, so he doesn’t know how that will turn out.

After Kevin and Leah part company, they continue about their respective days. Kevin calls Jones in the afternoon to let him know that Leah was pulled into a meeting with The Dealer, and they’re going to meet about it at her house at 5 PM. To unwind, Jones sits and people watches until it’s time to head over to Leah’s house.

Everyone assembles around 5 PM, and Leah has tea and beer ready. She explains her encounter with The Dealer, and Jones seems skeptical as that information is primarily things they already knew, and could very well have been a staged encounter. The group then discusses future plans. When talk turns to long-term planning, Kevin notes that he knows what he wants and what Leah wants, but what does Jones want? His tone turns accusatory as he claims that Jones is judgmental and self-righteous, but Jones notes he doesn’t get what he ultimately wants — to just rest on a beach with drinks and a beautiful woman by his side. As Kevin grills Jones on what he wants from the occult underground, he notes that he doesn’t know what he’s doing — he describes his exasperation with the 50-year cost for the Whitley Folio — and he doesn’t have someone in a hierarchy above him to tell him what to do or whom to kill without thinking about it. Jones takes this opportunity to excuse himself and go for a walk.

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Session 24

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jones, Kevin, and Leah all meet at Jones’ house and pile into his car. They then travel to the lobby of 811 Wilshire and get coffee at the coffee shop while waiting for the police. Kevin looks around for holes and determines that there are none in the building — an odd occurrence, as they are usually all over the city. After maybe twenty minutes or so, Detective Willett arrives with a couple of other police officers. They speak to some of the people milling about, head to the dentist’s office, knock on the door, and go inside. They re-emerge in a half hour, and then take the elevator — Detective Willett looks a little nervous at the prospect — in an attempt to look around the building. They’re gone for another half-hour before returning to the lobby, apparently thanking some of the building staff for their assistance, and leaving.

Deciding there is nothing further to be done, Jones, Kevin, and Leah leave. Jones receives a text message from Willett indicating there is no evidence of anything that happened to Bex. While in the car, Jones, Kevin, and Leah plot their next move — should they focus on this? Should they keep working on the auction? Should they try to negotiate for the Whitley Folio? While discussing the possibility of talking to The Voice, Leah gets a phone call from an unknown number. When she answers it, it turns out to be The Voice, asking if she is available to meet, as he has a message to deliver from the King’s Court. He would prefer to meet somewhere somewhat private. She asks if her associates can accompany her, and he says as long as she trusts them, it should be fine. Since the King’s Court probably knows where she lives anyway, she settles on her house. He agrees to meet her there.

When Jones pulls up in front of her house, there is a limo parked across the street, and her light are on. The trio cautiously opens the door, and she calls out, prompting The Voice to round the corner. She chides him for entering her house uninvited, and he apologizes, explaining that has come because The Dealer wishes to speak with her. She does not agree to allowing The Dealer in her home, so The Voice motions to the limo and The Dealer, accompanied by a couple of bodyguards in suits, emerges. They have a conversation in front of Leah’s house; The Dealer reacts with mock insult that he was not invited to her auction. After some back-and-forth and input from the rest of the group, Leah says he can attend as a guest if he will return the map and pipe that were stolen from her and Kevin. He says he should be able to arrange for the return of these objects before the auction. They’ll be in touch.

With that resolved, The Dealer and The Voice bid the cabal good night and return to their limo. Jones, Kevin, and Leah continue to discuss matters, as well as what they wish to do next. They decide they’d rather ask forgiveness than permission, so they definitely won’t inform the King’s Court that they’re trying to rescue Jasper Fitzroy. Given what’s occurring at the moment, the proper order of operations seems to be working on the auction, Jones helping out his police contact in two weeks, and then everyone heading to Algeria to find Jasper. In the meantime, they can look into this haunted building on Wilshire, although it may not be top priority. In terms of people to help them deal with it, they decide on Dr. George Wei, as he seems like he would no doubt be interested in a building anomaly, and he seems vaguely trustworthy. Kevin contacts him, and Dr. Wei sets up an appointment for Thursday at 4:30 PM.

The next couple of days pass without incident — Jones and Kevin work, while Leah meets with Melker to further plan the auction. Jones, Kevin, and Leah meet at the mathematics department at UCLA to meet with Dr. Wei at 4:30. His office is roughly what one would expect, and Jones, Kevin, and Leah proceed to explain about this mysterious building on Wilshire Boulevard and the fact that one of their friends was attacked there. He says he has time to check it out, and given how dangerous it appears to be, the others insist on coming with him. Dr. Wei and Kevin will enter, while the others wait nearby in case there is trouble.

When Dr. Wei and Kevin arrive at 811 Wilshire, the reception is immediately hostile. All eyes seem upon them, and when Dr. Wei enters a shop, he is quickly accused of attempting to shoplift and asked to leave. Kevin texts Jones and Leah, and when they arrive, they find that they are all treated with the same disdain. They leave 811 Wilshire and discuss plans. Dr. Wei says he’d like to try something and attempts to re-enter, but the doors will not permit him entry into the building. This now seems to be the case for Jones, Kevin, and Leah, as well. After further discussion, Dr. Wei says he thinks he can get some answers, and asks for the location of a butcher shop. Kevin directs him to Belcampo Meat Co. on Broadway, and he says he’ll be back. He returns in twenty-five minutes with a container of blood and a dish, and heads to the back alley. Jones warns him of the camera, but he suspects the building’s owners are already aware of his nature. He pours the blood into the dish and advises the others to wait. Within a few minutes, a misty shape begins to form over the bowl.

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Session 23

Monday, January 24, 2011

As Leah is composing herself to head out, Clark asks her what she needs. She doesn’t fully explain, just indicating that she got some bad news about a friend and needs to go out and handle it. He asks if he can help, and she says no; he tells her to call if she needs anything, and he takes his leave. Leah gets in her car and heads to 811 Wilshire Boulevard. When she arrives, she finds Bex sitting on the curb. She has a black eye and looks a little shaken, but otherwise appears mostly intact. She does appear to be staggering as if drunk, however, and smells faintly of vomit. She doesn’t have any camera equipment with her, however. When Leah pulls over, Bex gets into the car, and as they move toward Good Samaritan Hospital, Bex launches into her tale. She was hired by one Dr. Nikodem Ząbek, DDS, to take new photographs for his website. Everything seemed normal enough, but as the evening drew to a close, she ended up on the elevator, which apparently went down to some basement, although it had windows showing another cityscape — New York, she thinks. Honestly, most of the details are fuzzy in her mind. She emerged into this basement to find some manner of party in progress. She doesn’t recall eating or drinking anything, but feels off, almost as if drunk. She was eventually ejected out the back door, and here she is.

Meanwhile, Jones heads over to Kevin’s place to pick him up, having informed him of Leah’s call. On the way, Jones receives a text from Detective Willett, indicating his task from earlier has been handled. Once Jones arrives, he and Kevin discuss matters, then begin heading over to 811 Wilshire. On the way, after some back-and-forth calls with Leah, learning that she is taking Bex to the hospital, Jones calls Willett to let her know the situation. She says she will meet them at 811 Wilshire, and she asks to talk to Leah. Jones gives her Leah’s number.

Leah receives a phone call from Detective Willett, and after introductions, she asks for a short accounting of Bex’s situation. Willett indicates that when they get to the hospital, tell the truth. The police will be called to take a statement. It will take a couple of hours to chug through the system, but once they input 811 Wilshire into the system, Willett’s name will show up and she will likely be called to investigate. Currently, she’s heading over to meet Jones and Kevin at 811 Wilshire.

As Leah helps Bex get situated at the hospital — successfully using the Fitzroy name to get Bex seen faster — Jones, Kevin, and Willett meet up at the high-rise at 811 Wilshire and begin investigating. Willett notes to Jones that her comrade Detective Daniels is much more fanatical about suppression of the supernatural than she, and so when he has a moment alone with Jones, he’ll likely ask about the partially melted state of the body they dumped. Jones probably wants to answer accordingly. They’ll also meet tomorrow to discuss the particulars of Daniels’ plane trip. In the alley around back, they find the scene they saw previously — a loading dock, a single door with a camera above it, and a roll-off dumpster. The group gets close enough to determine that the trash can smells atrocious, enough that they almost gag. Clearly, someone approached earlier and did gag, as a puddle of vomit is nearby. A cursory examination reveals nothing untoward, although it is noteworthy. Satisfied, they start moving around to the front of the building to go inside. On the way, Kevin muses that the building might be alive, and maybe that back alley is its anus?

Entering the building makes everyone distinctly uncomfortable, as Kevin’s “living building” theory colors everyone’s perceptions. The lobby has an open ceiling to the mezzanine on the second story. The walls and floor are composed of russet marble, with white columns regularly spaced throughout. The inside is warm and a trifle humid, and the air pressure changes when the elevators open and close, distressingly like someone breathing in and out. There are several businesses around — a coffee shop, a dentist’s office, a restaurant, an expensive boutique with a weird symbol on the sign that resembles a tooth. A few people approach but seem relatively normal as Jones, Kevin, and Willett wander around the shops a little but almost don’t purchase anything. Kevin purchases and consumes a coffee with no apparent ill effects.

The mezzanine is a cream color with a swirl pattern, and appears to have a bath product place, a pizzeria, a specialty candy shop, and a gourmet grocer. After poking about, the group heads up the stairs again, making sure to always avoid the elevator. The floor above that is closed, but holds a law firm, Sanders, Estrada, & Holcomb. They’ll likely be open during normal business hours. Above that, there is a cage on the stairs with a sign indicating that they are currently closed for maintenance.

The group decides to take that as a sign that explorations are finished. Willett takes her leave to work on paperwork until she gets a call, while Jones and Kevin both head home. Once home, Kevin receives a call from Mabel, asking if she can bring a friend to his cookout this weekend — it’s Jane, as they apparently spoke earlier in the evening. As he is about to sleep for the night, Jones receives a call from Jane, asking if he’s still awake and would care to meet. Despite being tired from the very long day, he invites her over and she spends the night, with the knowledge that he has an errand to run tomorrow afternoon. They talk a little about her discussion with Mabel, and Jane notes she didn’t know she had other options of paths to take. Although it’s pretty clear when speaking with someone literally able to fly.

At the hospital, things proceed largely as Willett suggested. An hour or so after Bex is shown to a room, a couple of officers arrive and take her statement. An hour or so after that, Willett arrives and similarly takes Bex’s statement as well as Leah’s testimony and conjecture. She says she’ll be in touch.

Kevin sleeps fitfully before finally heading outside to sleep on the deck. He sleeps much more comfortably.

Leah stays with Bex until she is discharged the next morning, apparently in good health — apart from the bruises, she didn’t appear to be drugged and doesn’t seem to have any other health issues. Leah takes Bex back to her house.

Kevin greets Felicia and Otis when they return to the house, and they end up hanging out and surfing. Otis seems okay with things as they are.

Jane and Jones awaken late and spend the morning together before he receives confirmation from Willett about their meeting time. He gets ready, and as they say their goodbyes, they get distracted and end up back in Jones’ bed.

Jones arrives on time to the meeting with Detectives Daniels and Willett, and Daniels explains his request. Daniels believes a Mexican immigrant was involved in several murders, but this could not be proven. All the victims died by what appeared to be accidents, but his quarry was recorded as being nearby, and word on the street is that he eats the souls of the dead. His quarry recently fled back across the border to Tijuana, possibly due to some recent ICE raids in L.A. Daniels wants to track him down and bring him to justice without the troublesome questions that might arise if he were known to legally leave the country around that time, so he wants a pilot to fly him across the border by seaplane. He has arrangements for local police officers to take him the rest of the way and help him catch this criminal. They should be there and back in one night. In theory, Jones shouldn’t really be involved, although if complications arise, he’s glad to have a former military man with him. He notes that Jones has to rent the plane as they usually only rent them out to licensed pilots, but Daniels is willing to reimburse him. They agree to this errand in two weeks, on the evening of Monday, February 7. The detectives part company with Jones, although at his request, Willett will let him know when the paperwork is cleared and she is going to investigate 811 Wilshire.

In the early evening, Jones gets a text letting him know that things are underway within the next couple of hours. He contacts Kevin and Leah, and they all agree to meet in the lobby at 811 Wilshire.

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Session 22

Monday, January 24, 2011

In between contacting other people about the auction, Leah receives a phone call from Clark. He indicates that he was unable to retrieve anything from the blanket, but that he should be in the area if she’s available for him to return it. She says she should have a little time, so Clark agrees to swing past her house. After Clark returns her blanket and the two make small talk, Leah asks if it’s actually possible to buy and sell years, and Clark confirms, indicating that The Dealer can probably do it, although he supposed to be able to do many things — the tales say he can bring back the dead. Leah also tells Clark that her father is probably in Algiers, and Clark asks if she plans to go after him; she doesn’t fully know what she’ll do just yet. After further conversation, Leah offers him a drink. One thing leads to another, and eventually Clark and Leah find themselves in her bed.

Meanwhile, Kevin uncovers the door in his room, but leaves the boards nailed across it. Then Kevin and Felicia wait on the porch for Otis to get home. When he arrives in the late afternoon, Kevin and Felicia indicate they have something to discuss. Kevin proceeds to explain that the world is a bit weirder than Otis knows. After entering the house, Kevin shows Otis the extra door in his room. Otis sits in shock for a while before asking more about it, and Kevin explains that there’s a hidden world; he and Felicia know about it, as do Jones and Leah. Mabel is also aware. A lot of weird stuff goes on in this secret world. Kevin also indicates that Felicia caught an intruder in the house earlier, and this person apparently came from beyond the extra door. She was surprised and defended herself, but it resulted in this person’s death. Incidentally, Otis should probably avoid the bathroom until the situation is resolved this evening, when somebody comes around to move the body. Felicia, Kevin, and Otis agree that Otis probably shouldn’t be around when that happens, so Otis and Felicia decide to spend the night somewhere else. Kevin slips them $100 and says he’ll see them tomorrow. Afterward, he again runs out to the hardware store to purchase some wood and locks so that he can build a box symbolically representing his house and ward it against external intrusion.

Jones takes a brief nap and then meets Eli at a local bar. They discuss matters; Eli’s from Kalispell, MT, Jones is local. Jones asks more about his philosophy and his choice to derive power from the gun, although Eli doesn’t seem to see it as a choice. Eli describes the gun as a lever that changes one’s interaction with society, potentially making one an authority figure or a pariah. In this case, though, it equalizes personal authority and governmental authority. Jones brings up Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., asking if Eli has ever actually read him, and he indicates he has not. Jones recommends it, and Eli notes that the gun is for those without other leverage; for Dr. King’s purposes, he had an economic lever. What if it’s only a small group of people, or a single person? Firearms might make a more effective lever in such a case.

After further conversation on the topic, Jones brings up the SovCit sticker on Eli’s truck. Eli then launches into his philosophy: the United States government, propped up the military-industrial complex, is illegitimate. Its temporal power comes from human collateral as evinced by the 1933 abandonment of the gold standard and the 1936 Social Security Act; its esoteric power comes from the gun. The counterbalance to the former is reclaiming the “straw man,” as he calls it; the counterbalance for the latter is reclaiming the gun.

Jones politely says Eli’s given him a lot to think about, and takes that as a good time to excuse himself. He says he’ll be in touch.

Back at home, Jones calls Detective Willett. He gets her voice mail, but she calls back in a few minutes. He asks if she might be available to meet; she says she can probably manage something in a couple of hours. Same Starbucks as last time? Jones agrees.

After Clark and Leah are finished with their amorous activities, Leah notes that she has a voicemail message and a text message. The text is from Kevin, noting some ritual idea he has. The voicemail is from Bex, asking if Leah can accompany her because her normal chaperone for a photoshoot fell through. If she gets this by 4:30 PM or so, call her back; otherwise, she’ll catch up with Leah later. Leah figures she can get back to people later, and continues to spend the afternoon with Clark.

Jones is awakened by his phone ringing. It’s Jane, and she indicates she’s being followed. She’s currently hiding out in the bathroom of a restaurant, and is Jones available to escort her out? After asking about the man following her — Jane doesn’t know him, he looks rather like a scruffy-headed hipster, he’s been following her for a couple of blocks before ducking into this restaurant after her, but he doesn’t appear to know she’s in the bathroom — he says he’ll be right over.

When Jones arrives at the bar, he quickly spots a man sitting at a table who clearly seems to be looking for someone. Jones heads to the back and knocks on the door to the ladies’ room, announcing his presence. Jane answers and the two of them walk out. When the man moves to approach, Jones interposes himself and rebuffs the man by acting like he misunderstands him and thinks he’s a waiter. When the man persists, Jones indicates that they’re not interested. The pair leaves.

Jones lets Jane know that he’s expecting another call, but he can talk with her for a bit before he has to go. They duck into another restaurant, and after some small talk, Jones segues into whether or not Jane is afraid of flying. He uses that as a jumping-off point to recommend she speak to Mabel. Jane says she doesn’t really know her, and would probably feel more comfortable with Jones making an introduction, but Jones says she’s pretty easygoing. Jones is interrupted when he receives a phone call from Detective Willett, saying she’s ready to meet. Before he leaves, Jones says he hopes to see Jane again, and recommends speaking to Mabel. Jane says she might take him up on it, and asks for her number.

When he meets with Detective Willett, they leave the Starbucks to go walking around the block while he describes his problem in a roundabout fashion. She says she can make some recommendations, although if he just wants the problem handled without worrying about other police officers encountering him in the middle of things, she probably knows someone who would be willing to assist. However, she knows her associate is in need of a pilot sometime soon, and would probably want Jones to assist as payment. Jones asks for details, and Willett excuses herself for a moment to call her friend. Returning, she explains he wants someone to fly a seaplane to Tijuana so he can hunt down a fugitive without officially being registered as having crossed the border. Since rental places usually require licensed pilots to rent, Jones would have to put the rental plane in his name, although her associate could reimburse him. After some thought, Jones agrees. He calls Kevin to see if strangers coming over to his house to move a body is acceptable, and he agrees. Detective Willett says she’ll be in touch, and the two part ways. Jones heads back home to hopefully nap.

Within an hour or so, Kevin hears a knock at the door and is surprised to see an older man with gray hair and a mustache accompanied by Detective Willett. An umarked police car with an open trunk is parked outside. He greets her with a bewildered, “Detective Willett?” and she indicates she’s here to pick up his parcel. He directs her to the bathroom, and they head in that direction. She surmises Jones did the wrapping job. They heft the body out of the tub, quickly place it in the trunk, and as her companion gets in the car, she notes that they have not been formally introduced; she’s Detective Patricia Willett. She surmises he was Jones’ friend in the precinct station the day she first approached Jones, and says she’ll no doubt see him around.

That evening, Leah receives a call from Bex, who sounds rather distraught and disoriented. She asks if Leah can come pick her up as she doesn’t feel very well. Leah asks where she is, and she replies she’s outside 811 Wilshire Boulevard. Leah says she’ll be right there, and proceeds to call Jones for backup.

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Session 21

Monday, January 24, 2011

After work, Jones meets Leah at her house around 8:00 AM, and they pile into her car to head to Brigid Ruskin’s house in Ventura. Along the way, Jones decides to call Eli to set up a meeting with him. He calls, but when he hits Eli’s voicemail, he doesn’t leave a message. Eli calls back in a couple of minutes, and Jones sets up a meeting with him at some sports bar around 4:30. Jones receives a call from the shop where he ordered his gun, apologizing for tardiness — according to their records, it probably should have come through on Friday, but instead came through today. He inquires about it, but they note it was probably just some clerical error.

Jones is grim about this development, wondering if someone has tampered with it. Leah asks if she needs to take him to pick it up; he says he may not retrieve it today.

Meanwhile, as Kevin gets ready for work, he’d swear there’s more space between his bookshelves this morning. When he concentrates and peers at the holes, he sees that there’s some sort of activity around that wall. He draws a line on his floor in a piece of chalk and heads off to work.

Jones and Leah arrive at Brigid’s house in time to make their 10:00 AM appointment. When they knock, a young man answers — he seems somewhat sullen and his demeanor is a trifle slow. Of note, his left eye is blue and his right is brown. Leah indicates they have an appointment; he leaves, then returns and waves them inside. He does not speak during the interaction.

They are led into a somewhat eclectic, well-furnished house. The only odd thing is there are a couple of bookshelves of occult grimoires spread throughout the house. The man leads them to a kitchen where an old woman sits, sipping tea. She wears a porcelain eyepatch over her right eye, and introduces herself as Brigid Ruskin, referring to her servant as Christopher. Leah, thinking about the rumor that she gave an eye to create some manner of Unspeakable Servant, notes that Christopher’s right eye is the same color as Brigid’s remaining left eye.

Leah explains why she’s present, and Brigid indicates that she’s done some charity work with her mother in the past. She further notes that she took the time to look them up and has heard about their recent exploits. As such, she suspects they’re here for something in particular. Leah explains her interest in One Glorious Day, and Brigid surmises she must be here on behalf of Edna. She says that if they are insistent, she’d be willing to part with it if they can give her more time — fifty years, to be exact. Leah says she will speak with her associates about it. Otherwise, they discuss matters regarding the actual auction, and Brigid says she will try to find film memorabilia that seems suitable. Leah also takes the opportunity to ask if her mother was involved in the occult; to Brigid’s knowledge, she was not.

Once finished, Leah and Jones leave and discuss the proceedings. Leah calls Kevin and explains the meeting, telling him to pass that along to Edna. He calls her and does so; she indicates that she’s not gifted enough to deal in intangibles, like years of one’s life. That means dealing with The Dealer. Kevin notes that it sounds like bad things happen when one cuts deals with The Dealer, but Edna says she’s never had any trouble. Kevin further asks about what it entails to sell years of your life; she says they come from the end of your life, moving your death date closer. Just be careful about it — if you’re 30 and you’re destined to die at 76 and you give away 50 years, you’ll die of a heart attack right then and there.

Kevin reports this information back to Jones and Leah. Leah really doesn’t care for the idea of giving up years of her life, and feels that the deal was just to get Brigid to sell; it’s Edna’s responsibility to procure the years of life. Angry, she asks for Edna’s number. Kevin recites it, and Leah calls her. She starts unloading on Edna, but Jones touches her arm and warns her to take it easy. Leah takes a deep breath — and proceeds to chew her out anyway, losing control midway through her tirade. Once she’s finished, Edna notes in a chilly tone that if she doesn’t care for the terms of the deal, perhaps she can deal with someone else. Edna then hangs up.

Leah calls Kevin back to let him know that Edna seems…less enthused about this deal than before. Kevin will take some time to consider what to do about Edna’s deal.

After about a half-hour or so, Kevin decides he’s done making deliveries for the day, and heads home. On his way home, he gets a call from Felicia who sounds rather upset, and notes that he should probably come home. Quickly. Alone.

Kevin arrives to find her out on the porch smoking a joint, trying to calm down. She has a freshly-bandaged cut on her left bicep. She says she’s fine, but that there was a prowler inside, and she attacked him. Kevin goes to investigate and finds a dead Caucasian male inside. He’s wearing paramilitary garb somewhat incongruously marked with a patch reading “THEATRE SECURITY.” A shotgun lies discarded to his side, and the man’s right hand appears badly cramped and crippled with some manner of palsy. His mouth and nose have been smoothed over, as if the flesh were like putty. Furthermore, it appears he was entering Otis’ room when he was surprised; Kevin’s door is also open, revealing a strange sight — he has an extra door in his room. Across from the door to his bedroom is another door that was not there this morning. It is currently closed. The chalk line from earlier, as well as that whole wall, appear to have grown to accommodate the new door, although the other walls are the same size as they were this morning, and the walls still somehow meet at right angles.

It’s probably best not to think about it too much.

Felicia explains that she heard someone around the house after Kevin and Otis were both at work. She made the cut on her own arm when she heard an intruder; when a man in paramilitary uniform came into her room, she freaked out and attacked him.

Kevin calls Jones to let him know about the situation. They agree to leave Leah out of it; Leah just knows to drop Jones off at his house, and that Felicia is freaking out about something. While waiting for Jones, who is still probably at least a half-hour away, Kevin calls Mabel and asks if she can come over. She arrives in a couple of minutes, and Kevin explains the situation. With regard to his new door, Mabel isn’t really familiar with permanent Otherspace doors arising — gateways to Otherspaces are usually transient, requiring specialized rituals to activate. As such, Kevin is really in uncharted territory with regard to interacting with the gate or closing it.

Kevin also notes he’ll absolutely need to tell Otis about the occult underground now. Felicia is fine with it, and they’ll tell him together. Kevin asks if he can tell Otis about Mabel, and she says to tell him whatever he wants.

The trio doesn’t mess with anything until Jones arrives. Kevin shows him the new door, and the body. Jones steps over to a window and takes a moment to collect himself before he proceeds; he doesn’t establish eye contact, and he is very reserved in his actions. He asks Kevin if he has any gloves, and Kevin retrieves latex gloves from the kitchen. Jones examines the body, removing the man’s personal effects and setting them aside. The man’s shotgun and sidearm were both manufactured by a company called “Ultrafrontier,” certainly no firearms company known to Jones. He also removes the “THEATRE SECURITY” patch on the man’s uniform.

The gathered party discusses what to do with him. The possibility of returning him to the extraspatial doorway is mentioned, although Jones is concerned that this could start some manner of conflict with people on the side of that gate. Dumping him on this side of the gate risks all the concomitant legal issues that implies. Perhaps they could dump him with a note, indicating there was a misunderstanding when he wandered onto this side of the gate? But then their legal system is unknown; what if they then demand Felicia be delivered to them?

After discussion, Jones decides to investigate the Otherspace beyond the door. He pulls his gun, as does Mabel. He’s going to investigate; Mabel will cover him from the door, while Kevin also stays and makes certain the door doesn’t close. They ask Felicia to hang out outside of Kevin’s room; she goes and sits on the porch to make sure Otis doesn’t unexpectedly come home for lunch and barge in while they’re making their preparations.

Kevin opens the door, revealing that his door is one of several in a hallway which stretches to the left and right before terminating in T-intersections. The door to Kevin’s house matches the style of his house, while the other doors in the hall are all blonde wood. Jones heads out to the right, listening to the first door he reaches. He hears noise — singing, perhaps? — on the other side. He quietly cracks the door and hears someone singing scales within. He tries to quietly close the door, but as it shuts, he hears the person within stop and ask, “Hello?” He rushes back to Kevin’s door and they close the door, waiting for anyone to pass.

Once they are certain the hallway sounds clear, they open the door and try again. The door he previously open and shut now sits open, but Jones heads left, listening at doors as he goes. He hears talking at one, a baby crying at another, and a couple of doors with no audible sound. One of them doesn’t even have light flowing from underneath. As he reaches the intersection, he sees a group of three people heading his way from the right side; he hurries back to Kevin’s door and waits for them to pass. They appear to be talking, but he doesn’t catch much of the conversation. Once they’ve headed down the hall, Jones again enters the hallway and heads right. He creeps to look in the open door, and finds an empty dressing room. He heads toward the end of the hallway, but as he hears footsteps coming, he heads back to Kevin’s door. When the footsteps are gone, he again heads out and goes to the darkened, silent door. He cautiously opens it, and finds an old prop room.

Returning to Kevin’s room, Jones describes the prop room and suggests that might be a spot to dump the security agent. Conversation goes back and forth until they decide the prospect of starting a war with the inhabitants of this strange place is too great. They ultimately decide to dump him in a secluded area, but after dark. Just so he doesn’t start to smell, they’ll store him in a bathtub filled with ice to slow his decomposition. Jones wraps him up in garbage bags while Kevin goes to get ice, and they stow him in the bathtub. Kevin also grabs some lumber and nails the new door in his room shut, sliding a bookcase in front of it for good measure. For his own edification, he measures the walls — despite all coming together at right angles, the far wall in his room is about three and a half feet longer than the wall between his room and the rest of the house.

With their preparations complete, Mabel is going to leave, but says to let her know if they need anything further from her. Jones is also going to leave — he ostensibly has to meet with Eli in an hour or two — but he’ll be back to help move the body that evening. With that, Felicia and Kevin are left alone in the house until Otis gets home.

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Session 20

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Leah is awakened by the sound of a knock at her door. A glance at the clock suggests it’s around 5:30 or so in the morning. When she goes to investigate, Maps-to-the-Stars Jimmy is outside her door. She decides to not let him inside, instead communicating with him through the door. He knows he’s supposed to be dead, but he’s not; he awoke a couple of days ago. He came to her because he heard she was Clark’s apprentice, and might be able to help. When he complains of being cold, she tosses him a blanket from the second story window, then calls Clark. The call obviously awakens Clark, and he knows nothing about Jimmy being back from the dead; he says he’ll be over as soon as he can.

Knowing Jones is at work, she calls Kevin. He says he’ll be right over — and to her surprise, he appears in her living room, evidently having forced his way through one of the holes.

After that initial shock wears off, they decide two people against one is probably better odds, so they let Jimmy into the house. Jimmy indicates he’s been wandering, and has spoken to a couple of people in the underground. Knowing that Leah is Clark’s apprentice, he wondered if she would be able to retrieve a box Clark has. It’s apparently an artifact from the Midwest, and gives you information if you look in the box. He’s hoping he can use it to find out where he’s been, and he intimates that maybe Leah could grab said box. She recommends he asks Clark about it, especially since Clark is on his way.

After further conversation, Jimmy notes he has a car, parked around the corner, and he needs to grab something from it. He leaves.

He doesn’t return.

Clark arrives within forty-five minutes or so. He asks Leah about what happened, does a quick walk around the block to see if he can see anyone, and indicates that Jimmy is not only gone, but by described, he suspects that wasn’t Jimmy. He offers to take the blanket Leah lent Jimmy and see if there’s any information to be gathered from it; she stuffs it in a trash bag and hands it to him.

Before he leaves, Kevin and Leah tell Clark about the auction, in case there’s anything he would want to buy or sell. He thanks them, says he’ll help if he can, and leaves.

Kevin and Leah agree to work on auction stuff later in the day. However, for now, Leah goes back to bed, and Kevin hangs around her house.

When Jones leaves work, he has two messages. One is from Detective Willett, indicating that Eli is parked outside Jones’ house. She has an officer following him around, though, having suggested that it’s part of another case. He should call her back in case she wants to do anything in particular.

The other message is from Mabel, indicating she had a dream about Jones. In the dream, Mabel is standing behind Jones, who stands on one side of a bridge. Jones is holding the American flag, raised high like at Iwo Jima. On the far end of the bridge is another woman — she is wearing a cloak that obscures her face, but is otherwise nude and literally radiant. She stands silently, her arms outstretched. In the middle of the bridge is a nun; upon awakening, Mabel can no longer recall her face, but she is radiant. She seems to be trying to decide something. Mabel hands Jones a feather, and Jones holds the feather out to the woman. The nun looks back and forth, and starts to move when Mabel awakens. Hopefully that means something to Jones; he can call if he has any questions.

Once he’s sitting in his car, he calls Detective Willett. He indicates he’ll handle it himself, and she says to call if there’s any trouble. He drives past his house, parks a little way away, and walks up to it trying to approach Eli’s truck from behind. (Eli’s truck, he notes, is a very large Ford F-150 with a decal of the U.S. Constitution across the rear window and a SovCit sticker on the back.) Eli apparently sees him and steps out; he apologizes for their earlier meeting, saying maybe they got off to a bad start. Eli wanted to clarify that Jones caught his attention because the shooting incident occurred at the American Café. Jones says he got the message loud and clear. Rather than meeting like this, would Eli be willing to call him, maybe grab a beer? Eli gives Jones his number and then drives off. Jones waits a moment, then sees the unmarked police car up the street also drive off. He then returns to his house.

He finds Jane in his kitchen, wrapped in a bedsheet, trying to tame bacon and eggs for breakfast. After greeting her with a kiss, he asks if she had any trouble while he was away. She says she did not, and he explains that he has a gun enthusiast following him around. After a bit of description, she asks if it’s Eli; she apparently went on one date with him before learning he was nuts, and offers her condolences.

Over breakfast, they agree to meet again in the afternoon at one of the local malls and go people watching. She says she’ll go back to her house to change and such, but Jones can call her when he awakes. He agrees, and she takes her leave.

Before going to bed, Jones calls Mabel to clarify details. He asks if she often acts as prophetess, but she indicates that odd dreams occasionally come with the whole avatar thing. He asks what manner of feather she gave him, and she thinks it’s a dove or pigeon. In the dream, she told him, “Take this, perhaps it will help,” and when he held it out to the woman, he said something Mabel doesn’t recall, but might have been, “Stay!” Jones indicates he doesn’t know about the nun, but thinks he knows about the woman on the other side of the bridge, as he suspects that’s Jane. Knowing that Jane is involved, Mabel indicates that Jane is actually probably the nun, and the woman on the far end represents her patron, the Naked Goddess. Perhaps she has some manner of choice? For that matter, maybe Mabel is offering the patronage of the Flying Woman. Jones mulls these things over, and notes that he holds no illusions about where this might be going. Mabel similarly suggests that, as a devotee of the Naked Goddess, there is a likelihood that Jane will disappear at some point. The tales say that the Naked Goddess is recent, an anonymous porn star who ascended to godhood in 1996, but the symbolism is strangely ancient, stretching back from the Black Dahlia and femmes fatales to the Mona Lisa and feminine mystery cults. In the late 1990s, it was somewhat in vogue to refer to the Naked Goddess as the Woman Everyone Can Have But You — someone available to men, but mysterious individually. Avatars of the Naked Goddess are weakened if they are too well defined, so yes, Jane is likely to leave eventually. Or at least be less than truthful.

With that, Jones thanks Mabel and goes to bed.

Kevin and Leah spend their day determining auction stuff and contacting additional people. With Leah’s permission, Kevin calls Edna to invite her if she wishes to buy or sell. Kevin also asks for Leah’s advice regarding whether or not he should inform Otis of the occult underground. She thinks it’s a bad idea, and considers keeping Bex and Lorenzo in the dark as doing them a favor, but it’s ultimately up to him.

Later in the day, Leah drives Kevin home, then she returns home to continue working on auction stuff. Kevin goes surfing with Otis.

Jones awakens in the afternoon, calls Jane, and meets with her. They people watch and eventually go and get coffee. Over coffee, Jones brings up the fact that many things he’s encountered are probably secretly mojo-related. Like The Flying Nun, for example — what if instead of high winds, she secretly had access to flying magick? Jones continues, noting that he knows a little about what she does. As he delves into that and their relationship, she gets rather quiet, and somewhat flustered. She ultimately indicates that she doesn’t know quite where this relationship is going, but she likes Jones. He has an earnestness that one usually only finds in ignorant people, but he seems like he has a good head on his shoulders. He’s honest, possibly the only honest person she’s met, and she respects that.

After some awkward silence, she asks if they could return to his house. She shows up maybe fifteen minutes after he does, and still seems rather unlike herself. While they’re talking, Jones is interrupted by calls from Kevin, prompting him to toss his phone, which does elicit a laugh from Jane. He says he’ll get it later. After some discussion, they decide to watch some dumb comedy movie. She’s still very quiet, but after the movie ends and she gets ready to go home, she tells him that her name is Jennifer Paige, and she’s originally from Arkansas. She wanted to make sure to tell him something true before she left.

Returning Kevin’s call, Jones explains that everything is fine, that he was spending time with Jane. After Kevin has the opportunity to fully process that, he explains about the encounter with Maps-to-the-Stars Jimmy — Jones has some pointed questions about how Clark ended up there — and further asks if he should bring Otis into this madness. Jones is against it, but notes that if he does, Felicia has to be allowed to tell Otis on her own; Kevin can’t mention her being part of this without her permission.

After getting off the phone with Kevin, Jones also speaks with Leah, and gets the story from her. He again asks how Clark got involved, and after some waffling, Leah explains that he was going to help with finding her father. Leah is also pleased that Jones has been spending time with Jane. They both indicate that they’ll meet tomorrow morning to meet with Brigid Ruskin.

The evening progresses uneventfully for everyone. Jones gets ready for work, Kevin continues contemplating and hanging out with Otis, and Leah continues working on auction preparations.

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Session 19

Friday, January 21, 2011

While preparing for her meeting that afternoon, Leah receives a phone call from Mabel. Mabel indicates she has a piece of information she neglected to mention last night, and she only recently learned, not having known that Jasper Fitzroy was adopted. She proceeds to explain about the plot of Aleister Crowley’s Moonchild — wherein Aleister Crowley describes the creation of an incarnated lunar deity, the titular Moonchild — and how this influenced rocket scientist and fellow O.T.O. member Jack Parsons to engage in his Babalon Working. Performed in tandem with none other than L. Ron Hubbard, the Babalon Working was supposed to incarnate a the Thelemite deity Babalon on Earth. Parsons considered a success when he soon met Marjorie Cameron and proclaimed her his Scarlet Woman, although the second phase — conceiving a mystical child — never came to fruition and Hubbard later ran off with Parsons’ savings and his wife. Regardless, Parsons and his research associate Frank Malina tried to sell a script treatment about rocketry to MGM. Although this venture failed, Mabel understands that there was some contact with MGM. Parsons used to throw lavish parties in those days; she attended more than her fair share, and she claims none other than Nick Schenck was in attendance at one, where he may have discussed Parsons ideas regarding his Babalon Working. Whatever the case, she heard persistent rumors that Schenck tried to perform his own Babalon Working to make the perfect movie star, the King of movie stars, someone MGM could shape and control. There have been two men called the “King of Hollywood,” Douglas Fairbanks and Clark Gable. To make the ultimate movie star, the studios connived to get Clark Gable with Sylvia Ashley, Douglas Fairbanks’ wife until his death in 1939, thereby symbolically making her a Queen of Hollywood. Although the marriage was rocky, they tried to get them to produce a child. History records no such thing, but rumors in the occult underground of the late 1940s and early 1950s indicates they did, and gave it up for adoption when it was clear the marriage wouldn’t work. Mabel believes that child ended up with the Fitzroys, as they were friends of Clark Gable, and can be placed in Nassau in December 1950 when the Gables were on vacation and Jasper would have been born.

As such, Mabel recommends that Leah gets a DNA test, as she might be Clark Gable’s secret granddaughter. Leah restrains herself, but is overjoyed at this news, particularly since it might form another hook for her show. She thanks Mabel for the information.

On her way to the meeting at E!, Leah gets a call from Jimmy ‘lessthanthree’ Brenda, indicating that she missed her payment yesterday. She apologizes, and she agrees to PayPal him the money.

Leah, Pam, Mel, BJ, Lorenzo, Bex, and lawyers from Gibson Dunn arrive at the E! offices. On their way through the building, they run into Ryan Seacrest, who congratulates Leah on joining the company; he similarly congratulates her on her “piece” last night, although it’s pretty clear he doesn’t know what to make of said ritual.

Once in the offices, negotiations proceed for a couple of hours, but seem to go well. Leah keeps her plans regarding Algeria to herself for now, although she does instruct her lawyers to go ahead and pitch her name for the show — Princess Leah. The corporate types seem to think it should fall under parody, and therefore won’t cause any conflict with Lucasfilm.

By the end of the meeting, it sounds like a few more clerical things need to happen among the lawyers before things begin, but it sounds like more-or-less a done deal. Leah goes out that night with Bex and Lorenzo to celebrate.

While Leah is running her errands, Jones calls Jane with the prospect of going out somewhere tonight or tomorrow — dinner, or a walk somewhere or something. He catches her voicemail, but she calls him back within a few minutes, and indicates she wouldn’t be able to meet him until this evening, although she’s free tomorrow. Maybe dinner tonight and museums tomorrow during the day? Jane and Jones agree to meet around 6 PM tonight.

Jones also does a little digging to try to determine what he’ll need to know for any trip to Algiers — and what he might have to do to bring a firearm with him.

While working, Kevin rides around and finds a little out-of-the-way grocer. He buys five different types of flour, dreaming up potential mystic tacos, and later contacts Jones to grab lunch and tell him about these things. They also discuss what they think will come of Leah’s meeting, and any potential trip to Algiers. They eventually part ways, but figure they will speak again whenever they talk to Leah.

Around 6 PM, Jones meets Jane for dinner. It’s a lovely time, and even though Jones is prepared for the fact that Jane is spending time with him purely for mystical reasons, he gets the impression that she is genuinely interested in him. They agree to meet tomorrow afternoon and walk around the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Then Jones goes home, gets changed, and gets ready for work at 11 PM.

Kevin, meanwhile, drops in on Mabel to let her know about the party at his house next weekend. He also asks about Brigid Ruskin, and Mabel says she’s heard of her. A Rosicrucian, allegedly, and a scary old mystic to boot. She’s supposed to be missing an eye — rumors are she sacrificed that eye to summon a creatured called an unspeakable servant, a shoggoth-like thing made from moonlight and acting as a witch’s familiar. Mabel’s never really met her, though, so maybe take all that with a grain of salt? Still, if they plan on dealing with her, be careful. Kevin thanks her and goes about his business.

The next day, Jones, Kevin, and Leah end up gathering to discuss the auction and Leah’s show. The wonder if trying to find her father will somehow result in the King of Scales trying to revoke her show, but she’s committed to the prospect. Edna ends up calling Kevin to ask if any progress has been made on One Glorious Day or if he has some counter offer; he says they’re still working on it, but should have progress soon. She recommends they make their progress within a few days.

After some further discussion, everyone parts ways — especially since Jones says he has an appointment at 2 — and Jones keeps his date with Jane at 2 PM. Meeting at the museum, they wander around and look at the artwork for a while, making idle chatter and generally pretending they don’t both live in a world controlled by eldritch forces. Eventually, Jones decides to test the waters by noting that he doesn’t really have any artwork in his house. Jane revisits this comment some time later, indicating that she suspects he has a rather pragmatic home. Talk turns to what sort of art he should use to decorate it, and they eventually decide that perhaps they should each decide on a piece and see how it fits his home. They subsequently go to the gift shop and do just that.

Returning to Jones’ house, they discuss potential placement until talk turns to the bedroom, and the artwork is forgotten.

Later, as Jones gets ready for work, he suggests that Jane can stay if she likes. She indicates that might be nice; she’s hardly any sort of cook, but she can have some manner of breakfast/dinner cooking around when he returns.

During that same evening, Kevin manages to catch Felicia, and asks about the prospect of letting Otis know about the occult underground. She says she doesn’t know; Kevin clearly knows him better than she does, so he’s probably a better judge. Kevin also intimates that they might be getting into some dangerous stuff, so if anything happens, just look after Otis, okay?

Felicia does not seem to find this particularly reassuring.

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Session 18

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jones, Kevin, and Leah continue to discuss matters regarding the night’s ritual. Kevin still thinks it could open a rip to some Otherspace, while Leah thinks it needs to be done, as their other leads haven’t quite panned out. Jones finally mediates and notes that if Leah seems bent on doing it, all they can do is prepare.

So they do. Kevin and Leah talk symbolism for the ritual as Leah lists the things she was considering. After some discussion, the basic elements appear to be the following:

  • Representing Leah is the bonfire itself, the last sticks of her favorite incense (which she will abstain from purchasing for a while as a sacrifice), her favorite CD of New Age chants to play during the ritual, her favorite photographs of herself and her father, and a flower taken from the arrangement on her mother’s grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
  • Representing her father, she has a crown, a partially-consumed bottle of his favorite Scotch, a bottle of his favorite cologne, family photos in which Jasper is present and Leah is absent. She’ll also get Bex to film, representing his pull in the film industry.
  • For the community that binds them, she plans on using the assembled crowd, as well as a nice globe, a compass, copies of Variety and other industry publications with reviews of Jasper’s films, and a compass rose drawn into the sand around the fire.

Although most of the items are already in their possession, there are still a couple of preparations to be made. Leah goes to her mother’s grave to gather a flower for use in the ritual. Kevin calls Otis to see if he can scrounge up some of the Venice Beach Drum Circle crew. Jones calls Detective Willett to check about permits and such; she says a permit might be nice, but they’ll probably be fine without one. Should she come around to keep an eye on the proceedings? Jones doesn’t know what might happen, so she says she’ll try to arrange it. She asks if he can bring the parcel she lent him, and he agrees.

When Leah returns from the cemetery, Kevin has made a taco from fish and other odds and ends to give Leah luck in her ritual endeavor. One of her hairs might be in it, although she doesn’t know it; he asks her to bleed into it, and says it will assist her ritual. Although it’s more substantial food than her usual fare, she takes it and eats it.

Leah earlier discussed her plans with her family. Although Melker can’t make it, Pam is enthusiastic and Leah manages to guilt BJ into coming. Bex and Lorenzo already made plans to come; Bex will be filming, as per Leah’s request.

With everything gathered, Jones, Kevin, and Leah head over to Venice Beach around 7 PM, with the main ritual starting at 9 PM. They get set up, as does Otis and Felicia with the drum circle. Jones parks at a nearby parking lot, hanging out with Detective Willett and watching the proceedings. He gives her the lunch box with the badge and gun, and she asks when he works tomorrow, indicating that she has good news for him. He should expect a phone call around midday tomorrow. During small talk, she doesn’t quite know what to make of his talk about his love life, but lets it slide.

As 9 PM approaches and people start arriving, Jones recognizes two people from the American Café. One is a journalist he has encountered before; the other is a photographer with a rather nice camera. They don’t cause any trouble, instead apparently being here as observers.

At 9 PM, Leah thanks the crowd for gathering and begins. Bex similarly begins filming. BJ, Leah, Pam, and Kevin are around the circle. Leah lights the bonfire, placing the globe, crown, and the flower from her mother’s grave at the center. She uses the compass to help her inscribe the compass rose into the sand around the fire, and lights her incense sticks to be placed around the circle. While the New Age music plays, Leah invokes some words, beseeching the Universe, powers, deities, or whatever entities in which the assembled masses might believe, for the answers to find out what happened to Jasper Fitzroy. She asks the people who responded to her invitation to focus their energies toward finding Jasper as they are Hollywood, just as he is Hollywood. As she chants, she — as well as BJ, Pam, and Kevin — tosses the other objects into the fire: the photographs, Jasper’s cologne and scotch, and the reviews of his films torn out of magazines. Leah notices that Pam, and despite himself, BJ, both get somewhat emotional during the ritual.

Leah then continues chanting and playing music as the fire continues and the crowd continues to lend their spirit to the ritual. Playing to the crowd, Leah continues this routine for some time.

During the ritual, Jones notices a woman in the crowd quietly watching him. Tired of all this surreptitious stuff, he later approaches her, asking about her business with him. She claims none, although he notes that her tone is clearly hiding something. He says he’s going to end this conversation if she doesn’t come out with whatever he wants; she says nothing further, and so Jones returns to his car. She glances over his way a few more times, then disappears into the crowd.

Jones leaves before his shift at LAX, and Willett says she can make sure the crowd disperses safely. He makes sure to let Leah know before he goes. Detective Willett apparently makes a call to increase the police presence, and they start getting the crowd to disperse just before midnight. BJ and Pam indicate they’ll see Leah tomorrow at her meeting at E!, and Bex and Lorenzo similarly take their leave. With that, Kevin and Leah depart and return to their respective homes.

As she arrives at home, Leah receives a phone call from Mabel. She indicates she has information of relevance to her, but warns her that two members of Tyrannicide are with her and assisted her in this information gathering. Leah reluctantly says that’s fine. Mabel asks if the other members of her cabal are available, as this may similarly interest them, and Leah explains that Jones is at work, but Kevin might still be up. Mabel recommends she call him, and she’ll see them momentarily.

Kevin, being right up the street from Mabel, says he’ll be right over. He’ll meet Leah when she arrives.

Kevin arrives first, and upon being introduced to Amadeus and Sara, surmises they’re the people who broke Leah’s phone. They explain that Crispus and Capri can be rather zealous when it comes to such things, which is why they came instead. The Tyrannicide cabal has been independently researching the King of Scales and Jasper Fitzroy’s disappearance, and they think they have some information, particularly if Leah and her friends can fill in the blanks.

Once Leah arrives — deciding to leave her phone and most of her personal effects in the car this time — they get down to cases, with a brief interruption for Mabel to ask why she is so nicely dressed. Amadeus and Sara explain that, after their previous encounter, they went through the thought exercise of why the King of Scales would want to get rid of Fitzroy, and how he would go about it. The reasonable answer is that Jasper Fitzroy was sitting on territory that the King of Scales could not access while another True King ruled it. Since it appears they didn’t kill Fitzroy, they had to somehow convince him to vacate his territory. Amadeus then asks if Leah has found herself being monitored, and she recalls several days ago when she called the police on a suspicious work van. After the police responded, two men in suits climbed into the front of the vehicle and drove away. This bears out what they found — the testimony of some guys from central casting, indicating that they were paid to dress in dark suits and sit around in vans in the vicinity of Fitzroy’s holdings. They assumed it was part of some film or candid camera stunt, but it must have been some ploy to convince Fitzroy he was under surveillance in the hopes of getting him to leave. They produce copies of the contracts for these actors, signed by Iggy Williams, and they ask Leah if she knows this person.

Further conversation allows them to put together the pieces they have and potentially determine the chain of events. It seems likely that Iggy was colluding with the King of Scales, as each side could get something they want. The King of Scales gets to poach the Hollywood Hills from Fitzroy if he willingly leaves his territory. Iggy, being an Annihilomancer by description and based on Clark’s surmisation, gets magickal power from casting off the detritus of his life or convincing others to do the same. The pinnacle of Annihilomancy is walking out of your life with nothing; if he convinced Jasper to leave town with nothing, and he did the same, that means he walked into some other town with some serious major mojo. Leah asks what purpose that can serve, and Mabel says she doesn’t quite know, but major magicks are the pinnacle of the Art. They can rewrite the past and cause other widespread symbolic effects. No doubt Iggy had some plan in mind for his symbolic potency.

On top of that, there used to be a contingent of Annihilomancers in Los Angeles in the early nineties. They fought with the Irascimancers before leaving town and causing a ruckus in San Francisco. It’s possible that Iggy was one of these old L.A. Annihilomancers, in which case the King of Scales may have known him from before. Without a picture or a truly accurate description, Mabel can’t do much to determine if she’s encountered him before.

The other key is January 6. Given that it coincides with Misrule and the swapping of king to fool, they ask if Pam might be an unconscious avatar of The Fool. Leah doesn’t know, but it’s possible.

Leah asks if she can keep the documents, and Amadeus says she can. He further asks if they’re cool, and Leah says they are. Amadeus offers his number in case she needs anything further, but she says she left her phone in the car; he asks for her number and sends her a text so she has his. With that, Amadeus and Sara take their leave, with Kevin and Leah doing the same shortly thereafter.

When Jones gets off work, he finds he has two messages: one from Mabel indicating Kevin and Leah are meeting with her about important things, so if he somehow receives this he’s welcome to come over, and a somber message from Leah indicating she learned some stuff. He heads to bed and will deal with it in the morning.

The next morning, Kevin goes to work as normal. Leah gets ready for her meeting in the afternoon, but is interrupted by a phone call from Jones in the late morning. Leah explains what they learned last night, and indicates she’d like to find her father. And at some point, probably track down Iggy to kick his ass.

When he’s off the phone, Jones starts looking into travel arrangements for Algiers, and how to best transport a firearm. His research is interrupted by a phone call from the police station; they have apparently completed their investigation, and his firearm is being released from evidence. He rushes over to the station to retrieve it. Detective Willett sends him a text message later in the day to confirm he retrieved his firearm.

With that errand complete, Jones contemplates asking out Jane later that evening.

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Session 17

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leah and Mabel talk a bit more before Mabel takes her leave. Leah then decides to get dressed and make an announcement on social media that she has a major announcement incoming within the next day or so, and her followers should stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Jones is getting ready to hit the bars and see if he can hook up for the evening. While doing so, he receives a phone call from an unknown number. He answers it and finds that it is Hal, Jimmy’s friend. Clark called Jones on Saturday asking if he could pass his number along, and Hal evidently finally used it. He wants to talk about Jimmy, and Jones agrees to meet him at a nearby Denny’s.

They talk over coffee. Hal asks if there is anything specific Jones can recall about Jimmy’s final moments; nothing comes to mind, other than he was clearly out of it and clearly had a focused purpose, although Jones is careful not to mention anything he did not personally witness. Hal further notes that he heard Jones used to be in the Air Force. Given that, how does he deal with trauma, with losing people? Jones recommends finding a support group, especially since they tend to thrive on anonymity, so Hal doesn’t have to reveal anything about himself or the occult underground he’s not comfortable revealing. Just go and share. And if Hal ever finds himself awake at night, he can always call Jones.

The only new thing about Jimmy that Hal mentions is that he was trying to deal with The Dealer, because he needed money — something about getting plastic surgery to look like James Dean. Jones notes that it sounds like anyone who deals with The Dealer gets a bad deal, so why does anyone do it? Hal can’t say, but Jones suspects desperation plays a key factor.

They chat further, and Jones asks about how Hal got into the occult underground. He’s apparently bent for clothing and the symbolism of clothing, a passion he found at an early age. He finds it gives him power, although he’s in it more for the fulfillment of a perfectly-coordinated outfit. Eventually, Hal thanks Jones for his help and takes his leave. He likewise tells Jones that if he has any trouble adjusting to the occult underground, he can call Hal, too. Hal pays for them both and leaves.

With that errand complete, Jones leaves Denny’s to hit the bars. He first chats with a woman by the name of Leticia Chambers, but doesn’t get too far into his spiel about Tuesdays before realizing they’re not really hitting it off and quietly taking his leave. He doesn’t even get the name of his second attempt, as she clearly isn’t interested. He decides to try another bar, and this time meets Tanika Butler as she’s getting drinks for her friends. Again, his routine about Tuesdays doesn’t really seem to interest her, and as she takes her leave he finishes his drink. He’s about to leave when he runs into Jane outside. She is surprised to see him, but quickly reacts by suppressing whatever ability makes her seem somehow idealized. They chat for a moment — he remarks on the fact that they seem to keep running into each other, and she notes that she’s given herself over to serendipity, so odd coincidences happen to her a lot. She doesn’t necessarily know why they keep running into each other, but they’ll probably figure it out before too long. He invites her back inside for a drink, and she agrees. She says she’ll have what he recommends, so at his behest, she tries scotch. Although it’s obviously a bit outside her normal purview, she tries scotch and doesn’t hate it. She begins projecting herself as an idealized woman again after a few minutes, and when Jones points it out to her, she says she can only suppress it for a few minutes at a time. They talk for a while, sipping scotch, before Jane takes her leave. Being notably more inebriated than before, Jones offers to see her home, but she says she’ll be fine and takes a cab.

Jones makes his way home, more frustrated than when the evening began.

The next morning, January 19, Kevin takes Otis and Felicia out to his parents’ commune. The regulars know Otis, but Kevin introduces Felicia to everyone, including his parents. They’re glad to see him, as it’s been a while, and people hang out and chat over tea. Kevin also recommends that Felicia partake of the weed here, as it’s very good; better than whatever Carmel Drool is selling, anyway.

Eventually, Kevin asks his parents where he can find Chief Bug, as he wants to enter the sweat lodge. They say he’s around, probably out back, so Kevin goes to find him. Bug prepares the sweat lodge, and Kevin lets the people know it will soon be in operation. Several, including Felicia and Otis, undress and come to participate.

Inside, Kevin has a vision.

The holes he seeks are part of a mystical grid leading to an Otherspace, as he knows. Every Otherspace has a special ritual that unlocks it, somehow determined by the creator — although they may arise randomly from the universe, it is possible for people to create their own Otherspaces, although the effects can be somewhat unpredictable.

Kevin staggers out of the sweat lodge with this insight, and a good feeling about whatever he decides to do next. He notes that Felicia seems similarly self-assured when she exits the sweat lodge. They spend the rest of the day hanging out, and eventually spend the night.

Leah makes a second announcement on social media during the day, indicating that tomorrow night, she’s leading a ritual to help find her dad. She wants her followers to come and participate, putting their energy out into the cosmos in the hope of finding him. She then calls Melker, and talks over plans regarding the upcoming charity auction, the meeting on Friday, and her new plan for her communion ritual on Thursday night.

Jones works out and gets ready for work in the evening. Everyone is glad to see him returned, although everybody seems a little stiff around him; he relieves the tension by gathering everyone in a quiet moment and saying that while he experienced a traumatic event last week, he’s willing to talk about it if anyone has any questions. Right now, though, he needs everyone on his team to be focused on the planes in the sky like they normally are. Everybody seems a little easier after that.

When Jones gets off work and returns to his house, he finds someone waiting outside. A young Caucasian male, the man introduces himself as Eli, and seems very excited at the prospect that Jones took out some bad guy with a gun at the American Café, something that “crypto Muslim in the White House” wants to abolish. Jones takes a rather immediate dislike to the man, feeling that he’s some manner of gun fetishist with a lack of understanding about the gravity of a weapon. Eli thinks Jones has him all wrong; he totally understands the purpose of a gun, as a tool to protect people. Killing is just incidental as a tool of civilization. Jones goes back-and-forth with Eli for a few minutes before finally deciding he’s had enough of some gun nut waiting for him to come home, so he threateningly suggests Eli ought to go on his way, and maybe have this conversation during the daytime not outside his house. Eli seems completely oblivious as to what he’s done to make Jones so hostile, but he leaves.

The next day, Felicia, Kevin, and Otis return from the commune. When he has a moment alone, Kevin tells Felicia that he’s glad she had a good time, and if she ever needs to get away from everything, she can always go to the commune. She starts crying, thanking Kevin for being so accepting of her. She alludes to the fact that things got a little crazy back east before she made her way here, and she seems genuinely grateful that Kevin and Otis have accepted her without question. Kevin’s just glad she seems to make Otis happy.

Leah spends her day preparing for her ritual that evening. Eventually, Kevin starts the text chain, and Kevin and Jones agree to meet at Leah’s house.

Once the group convenes, they share their experiences over the past couple of days. Jones talks about his meeting with Hal, and more disturbingly, his meeting with Eli. Leah reveals her plans to perform a large-scale gutter magick ritual tonight in an attempt to find out what happened to her father. Kevin talks about his vision at the sweat lodge, and his concern that using too much magick might spontaneously create an Otherspace and possibly draw the attention of the House of Renunciation. As such, he’s not totally happy with Leah’s plan, but she says she’s going ahead with it anyway. Kevin and Jones both agree to be in the area — although Jones, at least, will probably stake out the ritual site from a distance — in case something goes wrong.

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Session 16

Sunday, January 16, 2011

After skimming the papers, talk returns to using magick to protect themselves. Jones gets a text message from Detective Willett, mentioning to let her know when he plans on staking out 811 Wilshire so she can save him a parking space. Kevin wants to see if he can bring people into the holes with him, and so Kevin and Leah wander out into the backyard. Jones stays in the doorway, watching. Kevin finds a hole and steps into it; Leah immediately shuts down, mouth agape, as she tries to process what she just saw. Kevin immediately exits, and he and Jones go make her tea. She has recovered by the time they return, and she decides to supplement her tea with a couple of hits of marijuana.

Once she’s calm, talk turns to 811 Wilshire. Kevin, Jones, and Leah discuss the possibilities — Is someone drawing people there to collect them? Is it part of some ritual? — Jones indicates he wishes to go stake it out tonight. He gives it an hour and a half, and then the group gathers themselves to go. Leah dresses in black, ostensibly to be more sneaky.

The group piles into Jones’ car and heads out into the city. As he approaches, he texts Detective Willett, and finds her waiting outside her car. As he approaches, she gets back in and drives away, giving him access to her parking space. Over the course of the night, Leah and Kevin fall asleep, but Jones stays awake.

The building is twenty-two stories tall, and in addition to the main entrance, there is a skybridge connecting it to an apartment complex next door. As they circle the block, an alley behind contains an overflowing, filthy dumpster. A metal fire door and a loading bay lead back into the building. Strangely, there is a frosted camera dome above the door; nobody noticed any other cameras on the building.

Early in the evening, Jane wanders past his car, although she doesn’t seem to notice him and she doesn’t interact with 811 Wilshire at all. Otherwise, the building is oddly quiet. A couple of vagrants lurk near the building, but a police officer ushers them away and they never return. Although there is still activity in the nearby buildings, even in the dead of night, 811 Wilshire doesn’t betray much activity. There are businesses in the first couple of floors, and while the lights go out in late evening, nobody ever enters or leaves. There isn’t much activity on the upper floors, either.

As dawn approaches, Jones drives back to Leah’s house, and everybody goes to sleep for the night.

Having slept in the car, Kevin only sleeps a couple more hours before he heads home. He makes a ritual taco to assist with scrying through the holes. He manages to look in on Leah, seeing her talking to Clark, and then he hangs out and takes some deliveries later in the day. He passes by 811 Wilshire and finds that the vagrants never returned, indicating the effect is very localized.

Jones is awakened earlier than he’d like by a phone call from Terry Kozlowski. Terry’s just calling to see how things are going, and to make sure all is well with Jones. He says he hasn’t heard anything about charges being pressed, so it’s probably safe for Jones to return to work later in the week. Once Terry hangs up, Jones goes back to sleep.

Leah awakens and gets ready to meet Clark over on 822 W El Segundo Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247. It’s a small house, somewhat cluttered with books and movie memorabilia. The living room seems to also double as Clark’s office, crammed as it is with books, a desk, and a television armed with plenty of DVDs and VHS tapes. Clark’s desk is dominated by a crystal ball in the center. They begin to talk about magick, and he explains that it’s all about stories. Leah indicates that she’s heard about avatars, but Clark decries that as lesser magick and beneath her. As they’re talking, Clark’s cell phone rings, and he steps into the other room to take the call — Leah eavesdrops, and gathers that someone is asking him to do something. He steps back into his study and asks if it’s all right if he handles this situation. She says it is; he responds affirmatively to the person on the phone, and then gets ready to go. He tells her she can stay and look over his books on film and film tropes until he gets back. And whatever she does, don’t mess with the crystal ball. Or talk to it, as it lies all the time. He’ll explain when he returns.

A few minutes after he leaves, Leah starts snooping around. She wanders into his bedroom trying to find evidence of, perhaps, a lady friend that stays there. He apparently lives alone. After poking around, Leah hears a voice emanating from the desk. It asks if she is Leah Fitzroy, and indicates Clark trapped it in the crystal ball and it needs Leah’s help. She totally ignores it. When it insistently claims that it knows where her father is, she leaves the house and decides to read out back. She texts Clark to let him know the crystal is talking to her, and he tells her to ignore it. He’ll be back as soon as he can. When she ducks back inside to raid Clark’s liquor stash, the crystal ball tries to get her attention again, she ignores it and wanders back outside.

After waiting for several hours, she texts Clark and asks if she ought to come back later. He says that’s probably a good idea. To avoid the thing in the crystal ball, she goes through the gate and heads back to her car.

Once Jones awakens, he calls Detective Willett to let her know what he found. She advises him to stay out of danger, and says she’ll keep in touch. Afterwards, he pores over the articles Mabel sent to him again, and does a little research about Arthurian legend and the judgment of Paris. He contemplates what gives the Comte the right to nudge humanity along.

Later in the afternoon, Leah gets a call from Clark, apologizing. They agree to meet again, and she heads over to his house. They resume their talk about avatars, and Clark repeats that it’s a lesser magick, also noting that Mabel is an avatar of The Flying Woman. When Leah asks about the crystal ball, he explains he trapped a demon in it, but has not yet figured out how to rid himself of it without releasing the demon. Leah talks about some tropes she’s been considering, either locking two people in an elevator to spur them to start kissing, or getting someone to laugh themselves to death, but Clark notes these both have pretty heavy logistical issues involved. They discuss magick some more, during which time Leah starts flirting with Clark, and they have a drink before Leah heads home.

The next day, everyone goes about their routines. Leah gets ready for the various meetings she has planned in the near future. Kevin goes and makes his delivery rounds. Jones decides to return to 811 Wilshire to watch it during the daytime. It still seems pretty dead, although a couple of people do enter. One, apparently some college kid getting lunch, later wanders out of the back dazed and apparently having been beaten. Jones approaches him to find that he can’t quite remember what happened, other than getting lunch. He eventually wanders away. Jones later sees a woman enter, and then leave within an hour or so. He approaches her on the pretense of trying to find a place to eat, one he knows to be in 811 Wilshire. She says she saw it in there, although she ate at a taco place; everything seemed fine, as far as she could tell. Jones also sees a couple of people cross the skybridge and then return to their apartment building with no issues. He eventually returns to Leah’s house.

Later in the afternoon, Kevin gives Old Hippie Tom a call. They meet down by the beach, and Kevin asks him how things are going and talks a little about the underground. As befits a somewhat addled old hippie, he doesn’t get a lot of information regarding anything — Tom claims he doesn’t know how he makes magick pipes or anything, it’s just something he does. Tom does bring up the topic of Brian, though, and notes that “he’s on a whole other level.” Kevin tells Tom to come around once in a while, as he’s living at his grandmother’s house these days.

After that conversation, Kevin goes home and makes another ritual scrying taco. He looks in on his parents back at the commune.

As the afternoon approaches, Leah calls Mabel, and asks if they can meet. Mabel says she’ll come to Leah’s house. Once there, Leah asks her about avatars, and that Clark said she’s an avatar of The Flying Woman. Mabel says that as long as they’re telling things about each other, Clark is a Cinemancer, and has to avoid wandering into tropes because he has to complete them — if he bumps into a pretty woman on the street, and he might have to stalk her in some unfortunate emulation of a romantic comedy. Mabel goes on to say that avatars are not a lesser magick, rather that adepts are magickal addicts, and to be one, you have to be so crazy that your will can defy reality itself. She suspects Leah’s cabal lacks the sheer craziness to be adepts, and the avatar path seems more likely. She suspects Leah could channel The True King, given her familial proclivities, or even something like The Star. Leah is intrigued, and thanks Mabel. Mabel finally says she’ll leave her with one thing, as everybody likes to see a real magick trick — the title of The Flying Woman is hardly a misnomer as Mabel hovers a few inches off Leah’s floor.

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