In which the characters get the lay of the land, eat entirely too much ice cream, and are unceremoniously ejected from the Abandoned House at the hands of invisible bogeymen.
- The group came together around the nucleus of Frank Charlton, a fellow Frosh who told an intriguing tale of a nearby Abandoned House on Church Street and a standing bet laid down by Delta Phi fraternity: anyone who spent the night in the house stood to win a large cash prize.
- Orientation Week was a blur of speeches, tours, and ice cream socials. Particularly intriguing was the University Exhibit Museum, particularly its photo of the “Martin’s Beach Monster” that washed up on shore in 1922; Gladys was sure it defied all known taxonomies. By the end of the week, everyone was thoroughly sick of ice cream.
- Logan established a weekly tradition of dining out at Paul’s Steak House; he has a standing reservation for four, and any of his friends who can afford the $3.00 tab are welcome to join him for fine dining on Friday nights.
- The group (consisting of the four PCs, Charlton, and Enid’s roommate Lois Norton) met with Delta Phi president Robert Lodge Jarvis and signed a contract agreeing to the terms of the bet: they were to stay in the Abandoned House from dusk ’til dawn or else be subject to a forfeit. A group of Delts would take it in shifts to observe the house through the night to make sure there were no violations.
- Charlton brought music and bootleg beer and Enid found some 70-year-old Irish whiskey in the dusty pantry of the house. A regular party got under way!
- Enid and Logan both got a bit drunk. Gladys kept drinking. At one point Gladys was sure she heard a whispered conversation in the corner of the parlor, but everyone assumed it was just the Delts trying to freak them out of the bet.
- Then Enid spotted…something…sitting on the parlor fireplace mantel, a dog-sized cross between a lizard, frog, and man:
“What I Saw” by Enid Gaines
- As no one else could see it, everyone assumed it was the whiskey talking.
- A search for more burnable materials for the fire uncovered a large rat in a pile of old newspaper; the rodent scurried upstairs.
- The group checked out another room and discovered a library/study. Most of the books were moldy and of little interest. A book on the oak desk of the study, however, caught everyone’s attention. Folk Tales of the Emerald Isle (copyright 1842), it held a bookmark in the form of an old tintype photo of a man, his wife, and children standing in front of the very house the PCs were staying in. A date on the back, written in pencil, read “August 6, 1866”.
- Moving to check his watch, Frank discovered the expensive gold piece had been somehow replaced with a tin can lid earlier in the evening. A desultory search was made of the parlor and kitchen but turned up nothing.
- As the search for Frank’s watch was under way, everyone witnessed something quite strange: a lump moving about under the carpet of the parlor. Attempts to squash the thing met with no success. The lump moved from the carpet to the wallpaper and continued crawling up the wall until it disappeared into a heating vent with a loud “BONG.”
- Venturing upstairs, the group found dusty old bedrooms draped in white cloth and dust. They headed up into the tower attic and found a bat lair, currently empty due to the late hour. Across a floor covered in guano, a painting rested against the wall. Using an ash scoop from the poker set downstairs, the group carved a path to the painting and found it to be an oil portrait of a distinguished gentleman, circa the mid-nineteenth century. It was strangely painted, however; his skin was nearly translucent, revealing a highly accurate map of veins and capillaries beneath. The background was similarly organic, a reddish-orange similar to the interior of an eyelid when one is facing the sun with eyes closed. Everyone save Florian was repelled by the piece, but the young med student found it strangely fascinating and took it down from the attic.
- Exploring the second floor proper, Gladys found footprints in the dust—strange, webbed feet of some kind of small bipedal creature—but they quickly lost the trail.
- In the master bedroom, after noting the dresser mirror had been removed from its frame, the group cornered the rat from downstairs on the canopy bed. Displaying amazing dexterity, Florian bagged the creature in the bed’s duvet. Before capturing the thing, everyone noticed its freakish appearance: built like a rat, it possessed a strange, toad-like face and splayed feet similar to (but smaller than) the tracks Gladys had noticed earlier.
- Returning downstairs, the group tried to forget the odd occurrences and wait out the remaining two hours to dawn. A rhythmic chanting began to creep up from below, however, and soon everyone was passing out. Everyone, that is, save Logan, who was so involved with the jazz playing on Frank’s Victrola that he failed to hear the chants. He did notice his friends collapsing in heaps however, and promptly mimed sleep when he heard the pitter-patter of dozens of tiny feet coming up the cellar stairs. He made sure he was holding the crowbar he’d brought along, though.
- Logan felt small hands pilfering his pockets, then lifting him up and carrying him. Cracking an eye, he saw his companions in the dim light of the parlor fire being similarly borne forth. One by one, they were being ejected from the kitchen door into the backyard.
- Strange goings-on or not, Logan was determined not to lose the bet; he sprang into action, swinging his crowbar about in an attempt to strike down his foe. Instead, he was overborne by a dozen invisible assailants and ejected just like the others. The door slammed loudly behind him as a Delt came up clucking his tongue over the lost bet. Logan has a collection of small bite wounds for his trouble.