USW: Tip the World Over on Its Side

Session 43

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Before calling Willett, however, Jones, Kevin, and Leah finalize plans regarding the rogue Otherspaces that have appeared in Los Angeles, both the one in Kevin’s bedroom and Khalifastan in the grotto in Long Beach. They all decide to focus on Khalifastan first, and they consider the possibility of searching for a ritual to close the gate. Surely one exists somewhere, right? Leah plans on canvassing her social media followers for possible rituals, while Jones tries to call Mabel, although he gets no response. They also discuss the possibility of dealing with local Merchants to find what they want; even though things ended poorly with Edna, they think she might be the best option, as she’s not terribly powerful yet, even if she is predisposed to dislike them. With this decided, the trio parts company.

While driving to work, Jones gets a phone call from an unknown number. When he answers, it’s Mabel, sounding significantly older than normal, like perhaps she’s playing up her age. She seems strange and curt in her responses, which Jones quickly surmises to be the result of an intruder listening to the conversation, which she obliquely confirms. He says he’ll be over as soon as he can.

He lets Kevin and Leah know that Mabel’s in trouble, and they both decide to head in her direction. Jones also calls Willett to let her know that a friend is possibly in trouble, and could she arrange a welfare check? She agrees, and he tells her to wait twenty or thirty minutes, just in case they’re not needed.

Kevin gets there first by cutting through yards and pedaling like a madman, and he finds a secluded place to observe the house. Everything seems normal, but after a few minutes of watching, a very disheveled old woman wearing an old house dress and carrying a sledge hammer walks out the front door. There are no signs of violence on her, and she just walks down the sidewalk until reaching the beach, when she turns and starts heading up the beach.

Meanwhile, Mabel calls Jones to let him know she’s fine, and the intruder is gone. He indicates he and his friends are still coming over, and he calls the others to let them know the danger is passed. Kevin conveys what he saw, and Jones explains that he’s still coming over. Jones also calls Willett to cancel the welfare check.

As such, Kevin decides to go to Mabel’s house, and she is surprised to see him so quickly. She invites him inside, and says she’s fine, but she’ll explain further once everyone arrives.

When Jones arrives, he manages to sight between two houses and sees an old woman with a sledgehammer watching Mabel’s house. He stares her down for a bit before knocking on Mabel’s door. They wait for Leah to arrive, and once she does, Mabel explains that was Red Claire. She hadn’t heard anything of her in over three decades, so she assumed Claire was dead, but apparently she’s not. Based on what Claire was saying, she came from the Otherspace on Long Beach, and came to ask if Mabel knew who opened it. (When asked how Claire knew how to find her, Mabel said this is the same house she would have owned back then.) Jones notes she’s still around if they want to inquire further. Mabel warns them that she’s potentially dangerous — some manner of Communist sorceress, Claire was always grubbing for valuable objects, ostensibly to destroy. Notably, Mabel once saw her take a gunshot and heal it by “giving” it to her attacker; Leah remarks that she redistributed the wound. With that in mind, the four of them head up the beach to meet her, although Jones and Mabel both have their pistols close at hand. They find her walking away, but they catch her attention and invite her back to Mabel’s house to discuss these matters. She agrees.

It takes some digging, but she admits she made the Otherspace as her personal utopia, a masterwork of magickal skill, although she refuses to admit how she did it. She notes that a group of five kids came through a couple of weeks ago, looking for a friend of theirs, and based on their conversation, they came from the “real” Los Angeles rather than Angeliy. It took her some time to find the source of the gate, but she wants to know why it opened and how to close it. Kevin apologizes, and says he thinks it’s his fault, but he’s trying to figure out how to close it. Claire seems displeased, but satisfied with the explanation, and she admonishes them to close it. She leaves, and everybody breathes a collective sigh of relief.

Mabel notes that the power necessary to permanently craft an Otherspace is enormous, probably requiring a major charge. She does not know what Claire needed to destroy to gain such a charge. She also notes that Claire has apparently inhabited Khalifastan for thirty years or so, so she was unaware of cell phones and other such developments — that’s why Mabel called Jones on her house phone, by the way.

Jones also brings up the prospect of closing the Otherspace gate with a ritual, and Mabel notes a couple of sources she knows. The Merchants in town could probably help, as could the New Alexandria Library out near Chicago. That library trades functioning rituals for rituals, and you have to prove the provenance of a ritual by enacting it, although plenty of disreputable types have defrauded the New Alexandria Library by enacting some phony ritual and then using some adept spell or avatar channel to perform an uncanny effect. (Some well-known rituals that are difficult to enact, like the Unspeakable Servant ritual that requires you to sacrifice an eye, are just accepted on word alone.) During the course of this conversation, Mabel also learns that Kevin is an adept, apparently to her chagrin.

With a few more avenues to explore, and Mabel apparently safe for now, Jones leaves to go to work. Kevin and Leah both leave shortly thereafter, although Kevin notes he might have some people over tonight if Mabel wants to join.

Session 42

Monday, March 7, 2011

That afternoon, Kevin receives a knock at his door. He sees Rodney Sims — wearing a foam collar and a sling on his left arm, and walking with a cane — on his porch. Kevin answers the door, and after exchanging pleasantries, Rodney inquires if he can have contact information for Leah. He indicates his previous contact reached her offices, but he has a bit of business he wishes to discuss with her directly. Kevin calls Leah, and after some back-and-forth — Rodney does not wish to discuss terms over the phone — they agree to meet at Chakras tomorrow afternoon.

The next day, Felicia, Kevin, and Otis head to San Francisco for a few days. Kevin also hopes to meet up with Old Hippie Tom, whom he heard was also in San Francisco for a few days.

Leah meets Rodney at Chakras, and after making introductions, learns that he wishes to file a class-action lawsuit against [[Bonhams & Butterfields | Bonhams]] and the LAPD. To do this, he will need the contact information for all those present at the auction and ensuing riot. Since it’s untoward to give him all that personal information, he notes that this can all be done through lawyers. Leah agrees, and gives him the necessary contact information.

The next several days are fairly quiet. Felicia meets Kevin and Otis’ San Francisco friends, and Kevin manages to catch up with Old Hippie Tom. He asks him a bit about the pipe, and then purchases what Tom calls some “killer Thai stick” for use with the pipe. Jane and Jones continue their vacation out in the mountains. Leah continues to lie low in the aftermath of the riot, although she stays in contact with her lawyers throughout the week. Since she’s likely to go stir-crazy in her house, Bex comes over to spend the week with her.

Felicia, Kevin, and Otis are back in L.A. by Thursday, March 10. Kevin calls Leah to inform her that he wants to use the map and the pipe, and that he obtained supplies to that end. When Bex hears that Kevin is coming over, she runs home briefly to change into something cuter, over which Leah gives her no end of grief. Leah also hangs psychedelic art around her living room to distract from the strange poster meant to be paired with Tom’s pipe.

Felicia, Kevin, and Otis arrive in the evening, and proceed to smoke the weed Kevin obtained in San Francisco out of Tom’s pipe. After about fifteen minutes or so, the lines on the artwork seem to twist and writhe and shift whenever viewed. Continuous viewing almost seems to draw the viewer into the artwork, revealing a symbolic path through flames into the rolling hills and castles of Hollywoodland. The path seems to confirm what Kevin already knew about access to Hollywoodland, and so he wishes to check it out in the near future.

Later, Kevin and Otis end up night-surfing; Bex and Felicia decline, as neither brought a bathing suit, although Kevin manages to give Bex some rudimentary instruction, largely as an excuse for the two of them to flirt. Felicia and Leah talk some about magick, as Felicia reveals that she finds Leah’s YouTube videos about transformation really resonate. She explains she used to be a cutter, and she found there’s power in the blood. She says she still has some juice leftover from when an intruder entered the house — since Leah never heard about the man from the Otherspace in Kevin’s bedroom, Felicia proceeds to relate the incident — and she displays this to Leah by instantly changing her hair color and then changing it back. Leah talks about the intersection of order and chaos and how they come together to form the world, and Felicia notes that marks Leah as a proponent of the Moorcock Hypothesis, which she proceeds to expound at length.

Eventually, as dawn approaches, Felicia, Kevin, and Otis head home.

Jane and Jones return on Friday. That afternoon, Kevin contacts Jones and Leah, and they all agree to meet at Chakras tomorrow around noon, before Jones has work. (Kevin also uses the opportunity to ask Leah if it’s okay if he asks Bex out; she begs him to keep her out of the occult underground, but otherwise doesn’t have a problem with it.) That evening, Jones decides to finally call Clothesline. After exchanging pleasantries, Jones has Jane move into frame, and Clothesline seems stunned. After some good-natured ribbing, Clothesline says he’ll have to meet up with them if he’s ever stateside. And to bring Leah.

The next day, everyone meets at Chakras to compare information. Kevin explains that they’re fairly certain about how to access Hollywoodland, although the group wonders if they ought to handle the Otherspace situation first. Leah explains that Rodney contacted her about a class-action lawsuit against Bonhams and the LAPD, and Jones notes he should probably call Willett.

Session 41

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Three men, wearing ski masks and trench coats, and wielding guns — two carry shotguns, while the third carries a pistol and a duffel bag — make their presence known when the man with the pistol fires into the air. He indicates that no one will be harmed as long as they cooperate, and the police have not abandoned the group here, but have instead been called to serve a higher authority.

Leah is still sitting at the front of the room, as she’s acting as the master of ceremonies, while Kevin invokes the Flow to ensure that nobody notices him while he observes from the back of the room. From their respective vantage points, they can see that Rebecca has surreptitiously checked her phone, and looks far more annoyed with that than the current proceedings. The Hispanic man that was trying to buy the boxes has also quietly checked his phone.

Leah is the only one with the vantage point to notice that three East Asian men — she’s fairly certain they were busboys or other help from the Asian fusion catering company — have crept into a side hallway, and appear to be waiting for something.

The man with the pistol then elaborates that he has need of the box at the front, currently up for auction. As he and his cohorts move forward, the Hispanic man grabs his folding chair and sneaks behind them, shouting for everyone to, “Get down!” and swinging the folded chair at the last guy in line, but missing and clattering the chair against the floor. From his point of observation, Kevin suspects the man deliberately missed.

Things only go downhill from there. The man with the shotgun fires at the Hispanic man and misses. The Hispanic man pauses for a moment, apparently in deep concentration, then starts screaming. The man with the shotgun starts backing up. The other two gunmen watch the proceedings with interest, guns drawn.

In the confusion, one of the Asian guys dashes from his hiding place, grabs the boxes, and dashes back as the Hispanic man takes a wild, panicked swing at the shotgunner. He connects this time with a loud crack, and the guy fires his shotgun, inflicting a massive wound in the chair-wielding man’s side. Leah shouts that the Asian guys are stealing the boxes, prompting them to bolt as the man with the pistol and the duffel bag gives chase. The other shotgunner, currently in the middle of the throng, advances toward the stage, but stays in the room to keep an eye on everyone, and the growing melee in the center.

A disheveled-looking man appears at the main entrance of the room, watching the proceedings with interest. The Hispanic man takes another wild swing and connects, and the shotgunner throws his hand up. Another small series of wounds, possibly bullet or shrapnel wounds, opens on the Hispanic man’s torso and sends him staggering backward. With no sound or source, other than the shotgunner’s outstretched hand, it is clearly unnatural, and causes the already-edgy crowd to explode into chaos.

The next several minutes are composed by a desperate flight through hallways as a maddened, screaming, shoving, destructive crowd proceeds to rage around them. Leah tries to hide, and after determining painfully that there is no safe place to hide in this building, attempts to flee. Kevin, on the other hand, flees up into the upper stories of the building, finding them largely unoccupied until he runs into


Shortly after leaving [[Bonhams & Butterfields | Bonhams]], Jones thinks better of the decision, considering that he left his comrades with Rebecca, and he doesn’t know what she’s likely to do. He turns the car around, and even manages to find parking out front where he’s greeted by a bizarre sight.

Several police officers are milling about out front, guns drawn, but are standing in some apparent indecision. Jones says he’ll be back, and as he leaves, Jane climbs into the driver’s seat. Already aware something strange is happening, Jones goes for a side entrance and is met by the maddened crowd. He manages to circumnavigate the rioters and duck into the building, running through empty hallways until he finds the crowds and Leah. He leads her outside before doubling back up a fire escape and gaining access to the upper story. There, he runs into Kevin. He receives a phone call from Jane, indicating things are getting dangerous out front, and he tells her to drive around back.

Jones, Kevin, and Leah manage to make it out back, although the crowd is spilling out behind them. Leah is nearly-inconsolable because her family is still inside, so Jones piles them into the car, tells Jane to get out of here, and runs back inside. Jane hesitates, but when it’s clear they’re going to be engulfed by the rioters, she starts driving for a nearby hospital, Southern California Hospital at Hollywood. Leah cannot get in contact with anyone as her phones are smashed, and Kevin’s burner phone for Detective Willett is smashed, although his personal phone still works.

Jones, meanwhile, manages to make his way through the crowd until he finds BJ, Jasper, Melker, Pam, as well as Bex, Lorenzo, and Melker’s family. Jasper seems amused to see Jones, as the man keeps intervening to save his family, and between Jasper and Jones, they manage to usher everyone outside and into a waiting car. The car also starts heading to a nearby hospital, Cedar Sinai Medical Center.

Jones calls Jane to let her know that Leah’s family is safe, and she conveys this to Kevin and Leah.

When Leah gets into the hospital, she starts making demands, and demands to see her plastic surgeon, Dr. Frank. She continues to make demands until the doctors begin to treat her and find cause to put her under sedation.

Jones contacts Detective Willett to let her know about the riot and the potentially-strange factors at work that caused it. He does not know the full details. Jane goes back to Jones’ house, briefly, to shower and change, but otherwise spends the evening with him before going back to his house to sleep.

Kevin lets Otis and Felicia know that he’s in the hospital again. He emphatically does not want his parents to know.

That night, Jones is awakened by a nurse in his room, whom he swiftly surmises is Rebecca in nurse’s scrubs. Her face is notably bruised. She proceeds to congratulate him on whatever trick he pulled to free Jane, although she has a hard time conveying the thought, as he immediately takes a swing at her when he sees her. She manages to scramble out of his way as he advances on her, stumbling out of his hospital bed and swinging at her all the while. She finally leaves, chuckling. Jones calls Jane, awakening her, and letting her know that Rebecca just stopped by his room, and so he doesn’t know if she’ll try anything at his house.

The news the following day suggests the rioting continued for almost four hours before it was finally brought under control. Fires destroyed twenty-two buildings, including the Bonhams auction house, and although the figures are preliminary, the damage is assessed at roughly $22.3 million. Fifty-five people were seriously injured, and three fatalities were recorded: Alexander González, former baseball player for the Tampa Bay Rays, and apparently the Hispanic man who fought the attackers with a chair; Anita Lewis, a camera operator for E!; and a John Doe believed to be one of the gunmen.

Having been treated, Jones, Kevin, and Leah are all discharged to make room for more serious injuries. From Cedar Sinai Medical Center, Jones ends up getting a ride back to his house with the Fitzroys in their hired car. Given the events of the past several days, Jane and Jones decide to get away to the mountains for the next day or two — Jane notes that she’s apparently on vacation until Wednesday, and the receptionist at work claims to remember Jane telling her this. Before they leave, Jones does look for Alex González, finding that he was fired from the Tampa Bay Rays over some poorly-defined spat with his bosses. He disappeared for a few years before reappearing in the public eye as the owner of a successful casino in the American Southwest.

From Southern California Hospital at Hollywood, Kevin gets a ride back to his house with Leah’s hired car. Felicia, Kevin, and Otis sound like they’re still going to stick with their plan of heading to San Francisco, probably first thing tomorrow morning. Leah, on the other hand, has work to do.

Session 40

Thursday, March 3, 2011

They wrap up the discussion with Leah’s assertion that she’ll contact Clark. Jones is concerned that this is all part of some ploy by Clark to enact a trope — something to make Jones go all Taken on Rebecca or some such. To make it less obvious, she’ll call several people on her list with last-minute inquiries about their items, just so this appears to be a routine matter. After she leaves, Kevin awkwardly hangs around to make certain Jones is okay until he is finally certain Jones wants to be alone.

Kevin receives a phone call from Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda, indicating that he only just received his scrying back on Leah, but she’s clearly already returned. He also indicates that he found a hacker, a fellow in London called Webcrawler, and tells Kevin that he’s Webcrawler54 on Skype. He’s supposed to keep somewhat odd hours, though, so the eight-hour time difference probably won’t be a big deal.

As Leah prepares to call people on her auction list, Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda calls her, as well, letting her know that Kevin asked him to scry on her, and he just received the results. He saw her in New York City, and L.A., but that’s largely it.

Leah then begins calling people to ask for last-minute details regarding their auction items. Eventually, she arrives at Clark. She calls on the pretense of trying to get more information about the jewelry boxes, and he indicates there’s not much more than he’s already said — according to the estate agent from whom he bought them, they belonged to Jayne Mansfield, although he’s never authenticated or opened them. He indicates he heard about Leah’s misadventures in New York, and she indicates that something strange happened. He asks if they should meet to discuss things in person, and she agrees. They agree to meet at a coffee shop within the hour.

Before leaving, Leah calls Kevin to let him know where she’s headed, in case something bad happens. He expresses doubts about Rebecca’s motives, particularly since they know little about her other than her claim to be part of the Sleepers, and he wonders if she’s part of the Sect of the Naked Goddess having captured Jane for some nefarious purpose. As such, he warns Leah, “It might not even be Clark, it might be her cult of sexiness.” To which she replies, “Okay, if Clark grows tits, I’ll run.”

Leah meets Clark at a café, and she discusses how she met a homeless man in New York City and ended up following him to wherever her father was hiding, and how Jones helped them return. She inquires further about the boxes, and so Clark makes a confession: they’re not Jayne Mansfield’s jewelry boxes. Two are mundane boxes, but one contains all knowledge in the universe; a good way to go mad, but potentially useful to the right person. There are three of them as a shell game, a bit of misdirection to make them harder to track. He’s just trying to offload them through a secure channel so that they are away from him. After some conversation, she excuses herself to the restroom, calls Jones, and asks him again about how she ought to proceed, as she doesn’t think Clark is directly involved. Jones doesn’t trust him, but leaves it to Leah’s judgment about how much information to give Clark. She thinks a while on it, and then returns.

When she returns, she indicates that they have a problem. Jane’s been kidnapped. Clark recommends they find a more secure place to discuss this, and Leah asks if Clark’s home is free. He says it is, although he’s not sure if it’s secure. He recommends taking a walk outside, an old Mafia trick to avoid electronic surveillance, and Leah agrees.

Once outside, Leah explains that Jane was taken by someone named Rebecca Payne, about whom they know little other than she’s very scary. (Although Clark notes he’s hardly trifling, either.) As ransom, Rebecca has asked Jones to retrieve the boxes. Since this is his fault, Clark says he can fix it; he can use the summoning spell he previously mentioned to Leah. Jones shouldn’t have to do anything, other than meet him backstage at the auction. However, he doesn’t know how perturbed this Rebecca woman will be, and recommends Jones and Jane get out of town for a few days; Jones should be ready to leave immediately after he exits the auction house. Pay in cash, if possible. Clark will worry about Rebecca while he’s gone. He asks if Jones is being watched, and Leah says she doesn’t know. He quickly writes his instructions in a note and tells Leah to deliver it to Jones and destroy it afterwards.

Leah leaves Clark’s place to go see Jones. When she arrives, he’s been busy searching through the house in case it’s bugged, although he hasn’t found anything out of the ordinary. They communicate without speaking, by passing Clark’s note back and forth and writing messages on it; Jones is willing to abide by Clark’s instructions, but he recommends everybody skips town in the aftermath of the auction. Jones then burns the paper over his stove.

When Leah leaves, she contacts Clark to let him know everything is in place, and then returns to work on auction stuff. She also investigates if Lorenzo is heading anywhere in the next few weeks, and learns he has a photoshoot in the Czech Republic in roughly a week. She inquires if they might go a week early, and Lorenzo is on board.

Jones calls Kevin to let him know he ought to leave in the aftermath of this thing, whatever it is, and he asks where Jones is headed. Jones replies he’s headed east. After the conversation is complete, Kevin thinks on it and texts Jones on Willett’s burner phone to let Jones know he’ll be headed north.

Jones, annoyed that Kevin didn’t specify the secured line the first time, quietly revises his itinerary.

The next few days are busy, but subdued. Jones is sure to suggest at work that he might be gone for a few days early next week. He also packs clothes for him and Jane, also including cold weather stuff. Kevin suggests to Felicia and Otis that they get away to San Francisco for a couple of days, and they readily agree. Rodney Sims, introducing himself as an associate of Kevin Spring-Day, contacts Leah about getting auction tickets, and she directs him to the right people.

On Sunday, March 6, everyone is getting ready for the auction. Leah is at [[Bonhams & Butterfields | Bonhams]] in the morning, but everyone else begins appearing in the afternoon. Jasper, Pam, Mel, Mel’s wife and son, BJ, Bex, and Lorenzo are all in attendance, as are Jones and Kevin. Of note, Brigid, Clark, and a rather put-upon Edna are all in attendance. Later in the cocktail hour before the auction, Leah catches sight of Rebecca, apparently having come in the company of Robert Evans. She makes certain to greet Leah, and Leah makes certain to point her out to Clark.

When the auction begins, Clark meets with Jones and asks him if he wants to go backstage. They meet by a side exit facing an alley, and Clark props open the door so he can smoke. He proceeds to say that Jane probably isn’t worth all this trouble, and that she’s definitely been stepping out on Jones with half the L.A. occult underground. He says a few more nasty things about her before pausing and sighing, possibly at the sound of footsteps echoing in the alley. He then says, “She’s right behind me, isn’t she?” as she runs into view.

She grabs Clark and begins to explain that she’s escaped and needs help until she realizes that she recognizes him. He merely nods with a simple, “Jane. Jones and I were just talking about you.” Bewildered, she looks to Jones, and runs into the room to embrace him. Clark admonishes them to be careful, and Clark and Jones exchange nods.

Jones leads a somewhat confused Jane to his car parked out back, and they begin driving heading along Sunset Blvd. Jones explains what happened, and Jane indicates she was able to cause some tension between her guards to make good her escape. She says she’s fine, just angry; she wants to go back and punch Rebecca in the face, but she knows that won’t actually help anything. She’ll just try to rest for now.

Meanwhile, the auction proceeds in earnest. Being lesser items with a low starting bid, the lot with the jewelry boxes occurs early in the program. Kevin moves to the back of the room and invokes a spell to cause the gazes of those within the room to flow around him. When the bidding starts, a few people in the room pick at them, but the bidding largely comes down between Robert Evans, bidding for Rebecca, and an unknown Hispanic man — perhaps of Cuban ancestry? — whom neither Kevin nor Leah recognize. Every time Evans makes a bid, the unknown man exceeds it without flinching. Leah notes that Rebecca quietly seems increasingly perturbed, and that she also appears to be quietly scanning the room, probably for Jones.

Finally, the bidding stops, as Evans refuses to spend too much on these jewelry boxes. As the auctioneer is about to announce that they will go to the Cuban man, the proceedings are interrupted when three armed gunmen rush into the room.

Session 39

Monday, February 28, 2011

While still recuperating at the commune, Kevin’s mother tells him he has a visitor. When Kevin goes out to greet him, he finds a well-dressed man who introduces himself as Rodney Sims. He tells Kevin he saw him in a dream and so came this way. He proceeds to ask Kevin if that possibility jibes with his understanding of the world, and when Kevin says it does, Rodney proceeds to ask about what he knows about this strange world. Kevin obliquely describes a couple of things he’s learned, but Rodney determines this is good enough and reveals he didn’t actually see Kevin in a dream, but he wanted to test to make certain he knew about the occult underground. Rodney proceeds to explain that he’s from a business consortium out in Guthrie, Oklahoma. H. J. Whitley built Guthrie, and Rodney and his associates revere the man, whom they considered the godwalker of The Opportunist. (Rodney further intimates that he is an avatar of The Opportunist.) Rodney has heard that Kevin may have had access to the Whitley Folio, and if he does, Rodney would be interested in seeing it. After some back-and-forth, Kevin eventually explains that he managed to take a look at it for a day, but doesn’t have it permanently, although he knows the man who has it. Rodney explains that he would be interested in obtaining it. If Kevin gets the book, would he be willing to let Rodney know? He and his consortium can no doubt come to some mutually beneficial agreement regarding its transfer. (For that matter, Rodney’s fine with Kevin holding it while he completes whatever his goals are; he just wants it when Kevin’s done.) Satisfied, Rodney gives Kevin his business card and takes his leave.

Kevin also continues messing with Armenia4Lyfe420 in Xbox Live during the rest of the day.

When he awakens, Jones notes he has a Skype message from Clothesline, asking to call him on Skype so he can meet Jones’ girlfriend. He further hopes that Jones got home all right. Jones spends time running errands and thinking about potential gutter magick ritual options to close the Otherspace gates in L.A.

Leah continues finishing up her activities in New York in preparation for coming home tomorrow to complete auction preparations. Melker is traveling with her; the rest of the family will return to Los Angeles later in the week.

The next day, Jones calls Kevin to discuss the particulars of trying to close the permanent Otherspace gates. They review what Kevin knows about the weird Soviet L.A. on the other side of the Venice Beach gate, but this devolves into an argument about how to handle it, and they end up hanging up on each other. Jones then goes shopping for gutter magick components before recalling that The Dealer was looking after him and deciding to call him back. He calls The Voice, and makes arrangements to meet The Dealer at a nearby coffee shop.

When they meet, The Dealer indicates his call is no longer valid — he was trying to contact someone over the weekend to assure them that he had nothing to do with Leah’s disappearance, and he’s subsequently heard the good news. As per most dealings with The Dealer, Jones leaves in a huff.

Leah returns to L.A. from New York City, but when she arrives home, she finds a box and map case on her coffee table. She opens the box to find her old pipe, and expects the map case contains the poster; she immediately calls Jones, annoyed that The Dealer came into her home. He indicates he just spoke with him, but she says there’s no need to talk to him again, she just needed to vent. She thanks him and calls Kevin to let him know that her items were returned. He’s interested in using them, but she wants to wait until after the auction in case they are immediately transported to Hollywoodland.

The next day proceeds with everyone continuing preparations for their various activities. Kevin leaves the commune to return to his house. Jones takes Jane out to dinner before he has to go to work on the night shift.

Jones returns to his house at about eight in the morning. He opens the door to find Rebecca Payne, sitting in one of his chairs, waiting for him. A cell phone sits next to her hand. He asks what she’s doing in his house, and she indicates that there is a set of three jewelry boxes on the block at Leah’s upcoming auction, donated by a Mr. Douglas. Jones is to retrieve them for her. She instructs him not to open them, for his own safety. Jones asks what’s in this for him, and Rebecca dials the phone next to her, telling whomever answers to, “Put her on.” Jane’s voice is briefly heard, admonishing Jones not to give them the satisfaction of anything, before she’s cut off, her voice muffled, and Rebecca announces that’s enough and hangs up. She explains no harm will come to Jane if Jones retrieves the boxes and delivers them to her. She does offer an alternative, however — she has access to a ritual that engages both participants in a ritual contest of wills. The winner symbolically devours the loser; she would be willing to let Jane go if she enact this ritual with Jones. After all, if Jones wins, she’s gone, never to bother him again; she won’t even leave a ghost. On the other hand, she expects he has information that would benefit her. He does not agree to this contest, instead saying he’ll get the boxes. How will he contact her once he’s found them? She tells him not to worry, that she’ll find him. And of course, if she catches a hint of police involvement…

Jones tells her to get out, and she leaves. He takes a moment to collect himself, then calls Kevin and Leah, explaining that Jane has been taken. Kevin makes it over in record time, having engaged in some crazy stunts to beat traffic, and seems tired but much more energetic than normal. Leah arrives after he does, and when both are there, Jones proceeds to explain his encounter with Rebecca and her demands. Leah notes that Clark donated the jewelry boxes, which are supposed to have belonged to Jayne Mansfield, but have never been opened for obscure reasons. One apparently still has jewelry inside, while the other two are empty; all three are locked, and Jones questions why no one has ever unscrewed the hinges to see what’s inside. Leah says she can surreptitiously inquire more about the boxes, among other objects, so Clark doesn’t get suspicious.

Session 38

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It’s very rudimentary, but Jasper seems to be going with the story that he needed time away, and this was all a misunderstanding. Leah seems to be laying the blame on Iggy, indicating that she didn’t tell anyone where she was going because she thought Iggy would hurt them if he knew she knew where Jasper was. Jasper suggests he was staying at an old vacation home in the Catskills, and Leah agrees — somewhere she would know how to find.

When Jones returns to see what Jasper and Leah have determined, he decides to inform Jasper of the situation so that he can be adequately prepared. Jones very obliquely explains that there is a secret society of people based in symbolism that tricked him into going to Algiers. He can’t tell him more than that, and he knows Jasper is unlikely to believe it, but it’s important he knows. Leah adds a bit to it, but after saying his piece, Jones returns to the front of the plane while Sage catches a couple hours of sleep. Once he leaves, Jasper, apparently angered by this, asks Leah if she’s dating Jones. He accuses her of performing some gambit that Jasper cannot fathom to convince Jones to spin that insane and extremely cliché conspiracy story. He further remarks that if it’s untrue, she can tell him right now and he’ll let the matter drop, but if she persists in this lie and he finds out, he’s going to have to cut her funding if she cannot be trusted. Leah, deeply upset, says she’s not lying, and they spend much of the rest of the flight in awkward silence.

Eventually, Jasper, Jones, and Sage determine that they’ll drop Jasper and Leah at LaGuardia in New York, and then return Jones to National in DC. Jasper tells Sage that he’ll take care of her fee. When they land, Jasper and Sage take a moment to discuss terms, and while they’re off discussing business, Jones asks Leah what’s wrong. She explains that Jasper thought she was lying and was very angry about it. Jones apologizes, but says that Jasper has to know in the hopes that he can react if something happens.

Once business is settled, Jasper and Leah agree to walk a few blocks away from the airport before hailing a cab so that it does not appear as though they just arrived from the airport. Jones wishes them well, and they set off. Jasper thanks them both, and says he’ll be in touch.

Sage then flies Jones back to DC. She says that she’ll see to it his bag is delivered back to his hotel room in Vegas. She also gives him a piece of advice — in Algiers, he mentioned a girlfriend. When he gets to a place where it’s safe, he should call her; Sage says this as both someone who has waited for someone and as the person who has caused the waiting. He thanks her. He gets on his flight, arriving back in Las Vegas in the late evening. He checks his room, and finds his bag on the bed. He picks it up to note that the weight is different and some container of sloshing liquid inside; he carefully checks the bag to find a bottle of Suntory’s Yamazaki 18 scotch inside, along with the other things he previously packed. He’s intensely suspicious of this, but takes his bag regardless.

Once he checks out, he gets in his car. After debating Sage’s final advice for several minutes — did she recommend calling his girlfriend to track her somehow? — he decides to call Jane. When it goes straight to voicemail, he hangs up and begins driving.

Meanwhile, Leah calls Mel to let him know that they’re in Queens, and that she found their father. She asks him to send a taxicab, and they wait. When the cab arrives, they begin driving back to the New York Hilton Midtown. As they approach, Leah already sees the paparazzi grouping around the front; she tells the taxi driver to circle the block and calls Mel to arrange for someone to open a side entrance for them to avoid the press. As they pull around, she feels some measure of the symbolic power she has amassed as a celebrity fade. She notes she feels physically ill, and Jasper, misunderstanding, says it will be all right, and he apologizes for yelling at her earlier.

Once they make their way into the hotel, they are reunited with friends and family — Pam, Mel, BJ, Bex, and Lorenzo are all there — before being assailed by federal investigators and representatives from E!, all of whom appear to believe their story.

Before heading to the commune, Kevin calls Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda to see if he can track Armenia4Lyfe420 and find his actual identity. He says he can’t, but after some thought, he can probably get in contact with someone who can. He says he’ll be in touch.

He then heads out to the commune. As predicted, Felicia, Mabel, and Otis join. To Kevin’s surprise, Jane arrives in the evening, although she heads home early as she has work in the morning.

Jone arrives back home after midnight, and inadvertently awakens Jane. She’s glad to see him, and they drink the expensive bottle of Scotch he received while he describes his trip. Jane also notes that The Dealer came around over the weekend, although she didn’t answer the door and so doesn’t know what he wanted.

Session 37

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kevin fully awakens to find that his mother has stayed. He largely tries to take it easy, and finds, to his consternation, that he can’t reach Jones. Particularly unfortunate as he can’t fully recall the conversation from last night.

That afternoon, Felicia and Otis visit. Felicia and Otis exchange knowing glances, and Otis invents some excuse to take Kevin’s mother aside and talk to her. While she’s gone, Felicia goes to work, peeling off Kevin’s bandages, warning him that, “This is going to be a little weird,” and then driving her fingers into his skin. It’s not wholly unpleasant, but it is the unique sensation of having someone rifling through your flesh like gelatine. When she withdraws her hands, he realizes most of the pain is gone. She explains that she had some leftover juice from when the Otherspace military guy attacked.

His mother returns none the wiser, although Felicia and Otis share a look that acknowledges whatever just occurred.

The following day, when Kevin is examined, they are shocked at how much progress he’s made. They’ll keep him an extra day to monitor him, but otherwise, they’re likely to release him on Sunday. He attempts to peer through the holes on Saturday, and successfully manages to spy one of his attackers. The man appears to be holed up at home, playing Xbox; Kevin manages to spy his gamertag, Armenia4Lyfe420, and makes note of it, as he’ll do something with that later. As Kevin’s condition seems stable throughout Saturday, and he feels fine, they release him Sunday morning.

He heads home first, plays a bit of Xbox — finding a Call of Duty match with Armenia4Lyfe420 so he can play the part of the clueless newbie gamer to annoy the hell out of him and his friends — and then calls some people to gather at the commune tonight. It sounds like it will largely be the regulars with Felicia, Mabel, and Otis in attendance.

Despite having only briefly conversed with Abdou, Leah has a sense that he’s seen plenty of weird things in his day, a haunted look that has become increasingly familiar to her over the past couple of months. As such, she decides to take a chance and intimate to him that she did not arrive normally, but through the magickal intervention of a stranger. As such, they probably shouldn’t head to any embassies or consulates, not right away. Unfazed, he agrees, and confirms with Leah that Jasper doesn’t know about these sorts of things. He then says he will discuss alternate strategies with Jasper.

After a brief conversation with Jasper, they agree to go to a cybercafé where Leah will try to contact her associates by email and see if that elicits a response. After heading south to the Library Multimedia Abane Ramdane, she sends an email to Jane and Jones’ mobile numbers, indicating that she found “him,” and that he is exactly where they thought he would be. She and Abdou then return to the compound to wait.

Saturday, Leah, Abdou, and a small group of others leave so she can check her email again. They note they are being followed by a dark-skinned man — Sudanese, maybe? — in a turban. Once he confirms that she is present, he appears to dial a cell phone and leaves. They otherwise make it to the cybercafé unscathed checks her email again, and finds an email from Jones, indicating he’s headed her way.

Sunday morning, she heads out one more time to check her email.

Jones heads to work on Friday, letting his coworkers know he’ll have to take some time off to visit an injured friend over the weekend. When he leaves work, he buys a burner phone with cash, and then heads home to gather his things and hit the road. He leaves a note for Jane and starts the drive to Las Vegas. He establishes contact with Sage, and they agree to meet in the lobby of the Bellagio. She indicates she has heterochromia of the iris, and so should be easy to spot. This sets Jones on edge, as he vaguely recalls the rambling homeless man from the previous night saying something about a sinister man with “bi-colored eyes.”

After a relatively uneventful five-hour trip, Jones arrives at the Bellagio on Las Vegas Boulevard at roughly 9 PM. He turns off his cell phone and leaves it in the glovebox, instead relying on the burner phone he purchased. Investigating the lobby reveals a woman reading a newspaper. She’s perhaps a little more put-together, a little more attractive than one might expect of a mercenary, which somehow also puts Jones on edge. Jones introduces himself, and further explains his situation. He indicates he wishes to leave as soon as possible, and she says they can leave tomorrow. He asks about a good place to get whiskey, and she says she has a bottle in her room. Still suspicious, he politely declines.

The next morning, they make arrangements. When she learns he has a firearm with him, she indicates they’re flying to D.C., and then taking her plane the rest of the way, so he’ll likely have to leave some things here. Thinking better of it, she tells him to take anything he doesn’t want to bring on a commercial plane and package it; she’ll make certain it arrives at their final destination. Jones places his gun and some other equipment in a duffel bag, and gives it to her. On the way to the airport, Sage asks the taxi driver to stop at the nightclub Delphi’s over on Fremont Street. She runs the bag to the doorman, and returns to the cab. The rest of the journey to the airport, and then to Washington, D.C., is uneventful.

It is clear that money exchanges hands between Sage and some of the customs officials, and before they board, they are met by a man with an Afro who has Jones’ bag. They then board a private jet for Algiers.

About eight hours later, they arrive. The journey is uneventful, although Jones determines that Sage served in the Air Force in Afghanistan, and met Clothesline through the standard VFW grapevine. She fell into the merc thing like many do: it’s too hard to return to a totally normal life after the military. Once they arrive, they meet Clothesline at the gate, and he indicates he has someone on the ground who spotted Leah. She was seen in the vicinity of the Casbah district, so Jones decides to head in that direction. He’s fairly certain he knows which direction to go, when suddenly—

He spots her. Walking across a crowded square. She also happens to glance at him and looks both shocked and relieved. Jones tells his party they’ve found her; Sage seems somehow annoyed or disgusted at this turn of events, but doesn’t say anything. The two parties meet and everyone returns to the homeless camp.

As others have, Jones cannot help but notice that Jasper appears to have accidentally gathered a court around himself. Again, Sage seems somehow annoyed at this prospect, but Clothesline takes it in stride. Jones introduces his companions to Jasper, and indicates they’ve come for him. Jones brought changes of clothes for Jasper and Leah, so they prepare. Jasper says he needs to make some arrangements with Abdou, and then he can leave. They discuss matters for a time while Clothesline, Jones, Leah, and Sage talk. Leah mercilessly flirts with Clothesline in the meantime.

Once Jasper has finished making arrangements, they’re ready to go. He indicates that Abdou will take care of things around here, and in a month or so, he’ll probably make a trip back to retrieve Abdou as his assistant, likely also sending money to help the local homeless population. Abdou, in Arabic, begins informing the homeless people about what’s happening, and the people seem to pay some manner of homage as they leave. They wander back to the airport, Sage gets everyone through customs, and they bid their farewells to Clothesline. As Leah and Clothesline are still flirting as they leave, Jones interjects with a comment about his hot girlfriend, and Leah agrees, noting that she’s wearing one of her dresses. Clothesline yells after them that Jones can’t leave him hanging.

They manage to board and takeoff successfully, and Jones leaves Jasper and Leah to figure out what story they’re going to tell the press.

Session 36

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jones is interrupted by the glare of a flashlight, and a man’s voice asking what’s wrong. Jones turns, seeing a police officer standing in the alleyway. He explains that he encountered this homeless man, and as he turns, he notes that the strange man is gone. He finishes up his explanation, and since nothing seems out of the ordinary, the police officer lets him be.

Once the officer leaves, Jones tries the fire door to find it locked. He then finds the coat he purchased and the man’s begging bowl, and proceeds to fold the coat and place the two objects in an out-of-the-way place in the hopes that the man will later retrieve them. He then calls Bex (under the pretense of congratulating Leah), and learns what he already suspects — Leah disappeared after talking to a homeless man outside their hotel in New York City. Bex seems shaken, but notes that the police are involved, and she’s sure they’ll find Leah. Jones tells her to keep him posted.

Jones makes a couple of calls to some of his Air Force buddies, trying to track down an old contact, Clothesline. After the action in Somalia, Clothesline stayed in Africa, moving westward and taking odd jobs as a mercenary and pilot. Jones’ friends say they’ll get him in touch. He also calls Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda, telling him that Leah is missing and asking if he can track her down. He says he can, although given that she’s on another continent it might take several days or weeks for him to determine where she is. Before he heads home, he calls Jane to recount his experience, and the fact that Leah might be on a different continent, and says he’s coming home. Jane says she’ll call Mabel to see if she can learn anything further.

By the time Jones arrives home, Jane indicates she hasn’t learned anything of relevance, but Jones has received Clothesline’s Skype handle. He explains the situation to Jane in a little more detail, and then decides to contact his friend. Contacting Clothesline, Jones explains he has a couple of friends stranded in Africa, probably with minimal supplies and no passport. Clothesline says it’ll take a couple of days to get out there, but if he can get a little more information, he can probably get eyes on this person. Jones says they’re probably in Algeria, and that he can send more detail descriptions shortly. Jones also muses on the possibility of coming to Africa himself to see this through, and Clothesline recommends a person stateside with similarly eclectic employment. He says he can get contact information to Jones shortly. Jones thanks him and says he’ll be in touch.

After logging off, he receives a message from Clothesline indicating his contact is one Sage Price, followed by a phone number with a Chicago area code. He calls and reiterates his missing friends and his need to get to Algeria. She says she prefers to do these things in person; if he can make it from L.A. to Las Vegas, she’s there frequently for work, otherwise she’ll have to make an appointment to meet him in Los Angeles. He says he’ll be in touch.

Jones discusses these matters with Jane, and asks if there’s anyone she might know relevant to this situation. She doesn’t, although she notes the cult she met in Las Vegas had a strange tie with synchronicity. Rosie might be able to help. Jones asks if she wants to be indebted to any of her former cabalmates, and Jane notes she probably doesn’t.

Kevin finds himself in a grand hall watching a chess game in progress. There are many robed, masked figures moving about an elaborate chessboard, a massive edifice with tiers and slides. The pieces are varied and strange — one player moves an army of hamburgers across the board that seem to meld with other pieces, while another combines pieces into an elaborate pyramid. At the head of the table is a cage where three more of these robed, masked figures sit in judgment. (At some point, he sees some robed figure try to surreptitiously move pieces out of turn, and these three figures — feminine figures vaguely visible under their robes as they move — emerge from the cage and descend on the player, ripping it apart with sharp talons. There is no blood, however; only a tattered robe remains. The trio then returns to their cage.)

Kevin’s attention is drawn to a figure wearing a mask resembling an English explorer with a pith helmet, but carved of wood in an African tribal style. At one point, the figure pushes its mask aside to scratch its face, revealing Kevin’s face underneath, but later in the match, it adjusts again and it’s someone else entirely.

The action on the board that holds Kevin’s interest appears to be a man wearing a mask that looks like James Dean with various piercings over on one side of the board. This figure takes a piece that resembles a microphone stand and a piece that looks like a male figure in a broad-brimmed hat, and brings them to another side of the board, where the figure in the James Dean mask and another figure in an iron king mask engage in a complex series of moves and countermoves involving a small figure of a king, a figure with a bullhorn, a shouting figure with its fist raised to the sky, and a figure behind some manner of podium. The king then brings the figure with the broad-brimmed hat back to the other side of the board, where it briefly interacts with a figurine resembling an airplane before it’s moved again and Kevin loses track of it. The airplane figurine moves to a figurine that resembles a nun. There also appears to be a figure close at hand that is tipped on its side and resembles a surfboard.

Kevin awakens in the hospital. After getting a hold of a nurse and encountering his parents — and encouraging them to not stay here the whole time — he calls Jones. He describes his dream in minimal detail to Jones, mentioning the chessboard and the players, the three taloned figures, the pieces that he expects represents them and other events, and “the African carved-style Englishman monocle Victorian dude” with his face. Jones dutifully writes it down, and eventually Kevin hangs up as he’s drifting off to sleep.

Leah contemplates her next move. Caught between commotion in one direction and the sea in another, she decides to head to the sea and the monuments in the hopes of finding some sign of her father. Along the way, she encounters a grinning beggar with North African features and begins explaining her predicament. The man apparently does not understand English — he responds in what sounds like French — but beckons her to follow him. He leads her through the streets until coming to a tangle of abandoned buildings; a couple of homeless men hang around outside, almost appearing to guard the place. The beggar evidently explains something to them, and one of them enters the building, returning with a bearded man. Also bearing North African features, he speaks English with an Arabic accent, and asks her to explain herself. She again explains her predicament, indicating that she’s looking for her father, and explaining that she’s Leah Fitzroy, his daughter. The man excuses himself for a moment. Shortly thereafter, Leah hears a brief commotion inside, followed by a familiar voice exclaiming, “Of course it’s my daughter!” Bearded, and wearing threadbare clothes, Jasper Fitzroy emerges from the building.

Leah and Jasper embrace, and he asks if something happened to Melker. She says he’s fine, and Jasper invites her inside. It appears that this abandoned building has been converted to some manner of homeless camp, although Leah can’t help but notice that it looks as much like a king’s court as a homeless shelter, particularly given Jasper’s tent at the far end of the room. Jasper asks what she’s doing here, and Leah starts crying, explaining how Iggy lied to him, that whatever he thought was happening isn’t. There’s no danger, and he should just come home. Jasper explains that Iggy showed him evidence that his previous accountant was cooking the books, and that giving the business to Pam and leaving was the only way to keep his family safe, otherwise the impending legal cases would destroy them. He asks how much Iggy stole, but Leah explains that he didn’t take anything; he just gets off on ruining people’s lives. Jasper then asks about the morning he visited Leah at home, and asks if Iggy gave her the black eye. She refuses to answer, prompting Jasper to remark that he’ll kill Iggy. He further laments that he fell for such a scam, and that he expects he wouldn’t have if Robin were still alive. He praises Leah for finding all this out, as it’s likely what Robin would have done, although he notes with some amusement that she probably wouldn’t have run off half-cocked to North Africa to find him.

Jasper proceeds to explain that he was lucky to run into Abdou, the man to whom Leah spoke earlier. Leah asks about the commotion when she arrived, and Jasper says Abdou erroneously thinks that someone could be impersonating Leah, although that seems very unlikely in Jasper’s mind. Before Jasper came to Algiers, there was apparently another man running this homeless camp, but he died in the riots that have swept the southern part of the city, and so Jasper has been organizing in his stead. They try to provide a safe place for the street people, and make certain that everyone pools their resources in the hopes that there will be enough for everyone. He indicates that he destroyed his false identification when he entered the city, but they can head to the American or French embassy tomorrow and he can send word back to the U.S. to request his documents. Leah lies and claims that her luggage was stolen, along with her identification, but Jasper says Abdou can take care of it. He speaks with him briefly and then sends him on some errand. Regardless, it should all be handled on the morrow. Jasper also sees to it that Leah gets a set of clothes to make her less conspicuous.

Leah sleeps poorly that night, and is aware that Abdou returns a couple of hours later, giving some whispered information to Jasper. The next morning, the various beggars in the building get breakfast together, evidently some manner of porridge or soup, and begin serving for everyone. Jasper indicates that Abdou was unable to retrieve Leah’s things, but they’ll head out after breakfast to sort everything out at the embassy. While he’s busy, Abdou sits across from her. He apologizes that he was unable to retrieve her stolen goods, noting that it was odd that they weren’t being fenced in any of the usual locations. Doubly odd that there is, in fact, no record of her entering the country on a flight manifest. When she asks how he would have that level of access as a bum, he notes that he wasn’t born homeless. He further remarks that Jasper is a great man, greater than Leah knows.

Session 35

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Leah is interrupted from her evening routine by a knock on the door. When she checks, it appears to be The Dealer, albeit by himself and holding a leather portfolio. She answers, and he notes that he heard she is headed to New York City. While she’s there, would she be willing to undertake a task for him? He explains that he needs a few documents delivered to an address in Greenwich Village, and he’ll be willing to pay in return. Leah asks to give her five minutes, and she calls Jones, who happens to be wrapping his hand after his ritual attempt. After some back-and-forth, they decide on asking for the map and pipe sooner than previously established. When Leah again answers the door, The Dealer is walking away. She calls out to get his attention and expresses her terms. There’s a bit of back-and-forth where he makes certain he still gets tickets to the auction, and Leah puts The Dealer on the phone with Jones to make sure everything is fine, but they agree. The Dealer will make certain the objects are delivered, probably while she is away, and in exchange, she’ll deliver the papers without looking at them. He gives her the address and leaves, although Leah still has the sensation of being watched. She recalls that she has felt this before regarding The Dealer — about a month ago, she felt the same sensation in the morning before she was set to meet him at Chakras. Although she can pinpoint the presence, she cannot get the presence to react to her in any fashion, and it appears to never stop watching her. She eventually ignores it, and continues about her evening.

The next day, Jones and Kevin go to work while Leah gets ready for her flight. That afternoon, while Kevin is out making deliveries in San Pedro, he notices that he is being tailed by a nondescript car. Four people ride inside — Greek, maybe? — and as Kevin notices them, they give chase. He cuts through an alley onto a mostly-abandoned side street, but they manage to cut down another side street and catch up with him. The car screeches to a halt a few feet from him as the passenger tries to aim a gun; the first shot misses, but the second catches Kevin in the chest. He tries to pedal away, but the car moves after him, and decides to stop running and try something. He tries to concentrate, but is unable to muster the will as the car barrels to him; as the three passengers lean out of the windows to take aim, however, he hits the driver with his spell surf Nazis must die, the feeling of a wave dashing one against the rocks. The driver twists and floats in his seat, as scrapes appear across his body and he spits blood. Two of the guys with him panic and flee the car while he floors the accelerator; the last man in the car returns fully to the car and buckles his seatbelt.

Left in the street, Kevin tries to pedal until he realizes he’s too tired for it. He tries to call Jones and Leah, but unable to reach either of them, he calls Jane, who says she can get in contact with Jones. He then calls 911.

Jane pages Jones at work to give him the news. When he calls back, she’s already left work to head to the hospital. She admonishes him to be careful and tells him she loves him before they hang up.

The rest of the afternoon is a mad scramble. Kevin is taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on 1000 W Carson St and brought into surgery. Leah is in the security line when she hears the news, but has to catch this flight, so she admonishes everyone to be careful, and to keep her informed. Jones heads to the hospital when he gets off work; Jane and Mabel are already there when Jones arrives. Jones also calls Detective Willett to make certain she is aware of the situation.

While discussing matters, Jane and Jones remark on the phone call with Kevin, and Mabel notes that his “Greeks” might be Armenian, as the Armenian Power gang is known to work with the L.A. Rats. Jones also thinks to call Otis, so he can pass the news along to Kevin’s parents. Otis is shaken, and says he’ll be right there.

Eventually, Dr. Angela Joseph comes out to talk to those assembled, saying the surgery went well. The bullet apparently grazed Kevin’s lung, but he appears to be stable and resting comfortably now. She says she will keep everyone informed. With nothing further to be done, Jones takes people out for drinks.

Having arrived in New York on a cold and rainy February evening, Bex, Leah, Lorenzo, Melker, and Pam get situated at their accommodations at the New York Hilton Midtown, and then Bex, Leah, and Lorenzo go out for dinner and drinks. Leah uses this as a segue to deliver her package; explaining that she has a brief errand, they take a cab to Greenwich Village. The address given appears to be a basement office under a deli; Leah knocks on the door and a woman answers, asking Leah to enter briefly so she can confirm delivery. Standing in the waiting room, Leah notes that the receptionist’s desk is protected by glass and wire mesh. The receptionist heads into a back room, and after a moment, returns without the portfolio; Leah also notes the feeling of being persistently watched is gone. The woman says everything is in order, and Leah leaves.

As she’s heading back out to the taxi, she hears movement behind her as a bum shuffles out of the alley. He says something about “the gamma soldier sojourns,” but she moves quickly to avoid him. She catches a glance of a rotund, bearded figure as the cab drives away.

After dinner, when Bex, Leah, and Lorenzo arrive back at the hotel, Leah notices the same bum outside her building, even though it’s the Millennium Hilton in the heart of downtown. He rouses, and indicates that she’s the daughter of the Chymical King. This catches her interest, and so she tells Bex and Lorenzo she’ll be along in a moment. Bex stays behind to watch the scene, making sure Leah is all right. The man proceeds to ramble about how the Lizard King and the Chymical King battled, but the Lizard King won and the Chymical King became the Exiled King. But the man claims to know where he went, and that he can take Leah there. He stands and gathers his things — a stick and a begging bowl labeled, “War Veteran, Please Give” — and begins wandering off toward an alley, his hand absently behind him. Leah hesitates, but takes his hand and follows as he turns down the alley.

When she exits the alley, the rain has stopped, and the night is darker, warmer, and drier. The sounds of the city have changed; the ocean is nearby, and angry voices can be heard somewhere up the block. She looks around the see the closely-packed, low buildings indicative of old world architecture, although a modern cityscape can be seen over the low buildings. When the old man hears the angry voices, he turns, screams, and goes running down the street in the opposite direction. Leah chases after him, but he manages to round a corner and is gone.

After drinks, Otis leaves and Mabel says she can get Jane home. Jones goes wandering, looking for people to help so he can keep to his plan of protecting the streets. He doesn’t find much in the way of violent crime, but he does help a couple of people with stopped cars and other such minor troubles. While walking, he happens across a homeless man with a begging bowl labeled, “War Veteran, Please Give.” He lets him be, but goes to purchase a coat to replace the man’s spattered, threadbare one. He folds the coat and sets it next to the man while throwing some change in the bowl, which rouses the man. He begins rambling about the daughter of the Chymical King and how she’s gone to find him, that “she’s in tomorrow when she should be on today.” Jones eventually surmises that he’s talking about Leah, and that she’s somehow in Algiers, although it’s difficult to get the man to reveal further information amidst his ramblings. Eventually, he gets spooked and tries to run away at something Jones says, but as he’s about to try to go through a fire door in the alley, Jones gets him to stop with a forceful shout of, “HALT, SOLDIER!” Jones continues to try to get information out of him, but the man seems too fragmented to give anything terribly meaningful, and he eventually breaks down crying at the interrogation. Jones crouches down with him, putting his hand on the man’s shoulder in solidarity.

Session 34

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Dealer needs to make a couple of phone calls before he takes Jones and Kevin to view the Whitley Folio. Leah has other business requiring her attention, so she takes her leave. Once The Dealer has finished his calls, he bids Jones and Kevin to step into his waiting limo.

Inside the limo, he establishes a couple of ground rules. No recording is permitted; they can keep their cell phones, but they should be in full view to ensure that there is no tampering. Note-taking is allowed, as some people study best that way, but The Dealer either gets to keep the notes or they can be destroyed at the end of the session. People on-site will arrange travel, food, and bathroom breaks; if someone leaves outside these parameters, they will not be allowed to return. Jones asks if he can keep his gun, and The Dealer is hardly surprised; he says that’s fine by him.

After driving across the city, they arrive at Extra Space Storage (8250 Foothill Blvd, Sunland, CA 91040). Several Vagos Motorcycle Club members linger outside, with a few more lingering around next door at the Where Else Bar (8234 Foothill Blvd, Sunland, CA 91040). The Dealer says the bikers will be providing security and arranging transport for them. The Dealer takes them inside to a storage facility. He opens the door, revealing a table, a few chairs, and a cot. A battered ledger sits on the table. The Dealer then takes his leave, admonishing the bikers to shoot Jones and Kevin if they cause trouble.

As The Dealer leaves and Kevin goes to work, he feels a subtle yet strange sensation accompanied by a brief adrenaline rush as he loses or forgets part of his prowess at navigating the Holes; evidently, The Dealer has borrowed part of his ability as per their arrangement.

Under the watchful gaze of the Vagos bikers, Jones and Kevin get to work. Kevin, for obscure mystical reasons, never tires and never takes breaks, to the mild consternation of Jones and the bikers. Jones, on the other hand, has to stop by the nearby diner and bar a couple of times to go to the bathroom — he notes that one of the stalls has been graffiti’d several times, including one scribbling of “GAMMA SOLDIER SOJOURNS,” to which he writes his own affirmative statement, hoping to provoke a response — and get something to eat. He also makes use of the cot for a couple of hours before work Wednesday morning.

The Whitley Folio appears to contain several hand-drawn maps and scribbled notes, as well as personal and technical journals detailing H. J. Whitley’s development of Hollywood and the Los Angeles area. It becomes increasingly clear that he is mystically aware, making reference to various esoterica regarding his building projects and the incorporation of important artifacts in the creation of a mystical grid encompassing Hollywood. It appears that this grid was designed to slowly spread and encompass Los Angeles as the area became increasingly incorporated. Importantly, this grid is meant to facilitate transmission to Whitley’s personal magickal demesne, an Otherspace he calls Hollywoodland designed to resemble some manner of pastoral England. He claims the death of his first wife and child by fire were accidental, but that he has leveraged those painful sacrifices for his own mystical use in creating this domain; it can be reached by burning a drapery (red seems to work best) over an open doorway. So long as the flame is started by an electrical source tied to Los Angeles’ power grid, the door will briefly form a gate to Hollywoodland. The same method can be used to return to Earth; any fire started in Hollywoodland evidently counts as being connected to Los Angeles’ grid for the purpose of this ritual.

Whitley also makes several references to being guided to his destiny by visions from a realm or entity he calls the Statosphere. He also makes a few references to something called the Invisible Clergy, or simply “the Clergy,” although he defines neither of these terms in enough detail to provide any illumination.

Most notably, Kevin does not think the Whitley Folio would give him any additional information regarding how to use his ability to manipulate the L.A. grid, how to close the open Otherspace gateways currently extant, or how to otherwise access Hollywoodland apart from the ritual described by Whitley. As such, he suspects retaining the Whitley Folio permanently is probably unnecessary.

While Jones and Kevin examine the Whitley Folio, Leah receives a call from her lawyers, indicating that they have received word from E! Entertainment that they, in turn, are aware of her auction preparation and they want to send a camera crew to cover it. As part of the lead-up, they have arranged for her to be on Today to talk about the auction. Would she be able to fly out to New York Thursday afternoon, to return to Los Angeles Friday evening? E! will handle the travel arrangements. Leah indicates she will, and the lawyers say they’ll need to call the other family members. Leah spends the rest of the afternoon calling Bex and Lorenzo to let them know and inviting them over for an impromptu celebration, as well as going back-and-forth with the lawyers to ensure they can come to New York, as well. By the end of the day, it sounds as though it will be Leah, Mel, and Pam on their way to New York on Thursday, with Bex and Lorenzo in tow.

Wednesday morning, Jones takes a cab back to his car and heads to work while Kevin finishes his survey of the Whitley Folio materials. Once finished, he also arranges transportation back to his house and spends most of the day jotting down notes and writing down any relevant pieces of research. He also speaks to Leah, letting her know that he and Jones are all right, and she tells him about her news. That afternoon, after Jones leaves work and buys an aquarium and goldfish, the trio arranges to meet and discuss matters.

Leah tells her news about being on Today Friday morning, as well as a camera crew following her around for auction preparations on March 6. Kevin and Jones reveal what they’ve learned regarding the mystical grid of Los Angeles and the Otherspace of Hollywoodland. They all seem to agree that they do not need the Whitley Folio, and resume discussing how to close the open Otherspaces and how to best access Hollywoodland. For Hollywoodland, Kevin recommends using a notable L.A. location like the Plummer House or Leonis Adobe on which it sits, but Jones notes that would likely require breaking into the location and setting an open fire, both of which seem unlikely propositions when they could just build a door frame out on the beach or something. Discussion goes back and forth for a while before all parties decide they’ll come to some consensus at a future time, likely after Leah returns from New York. As for the Otherspace gates, Kevin notes that he can close them, but he needs to symbolically align the traffic city to enhance its flow. Jones asks if this is why he feels to need to stop and assist stopped traffic, and Kevin replies it is. The group is unable to help Kevin determine a good way to assist traffic without either switching jobs or getting arrested.

That evening, Leah goes to a hair appointment to get ready for tomorrow’s journey. Kevin goes around Los Angeles, scouting locations he can surreptitiously assist. Jones attempts his Back Monkey ritual, concentrating and cutting his hand to bleed into his new fish tank. The ritual appears to not work, as the blood diffuses into the water with no further effect.


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