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By Sarah Hapgood

It was a motley cavalcade that set off for Starhanger the next day. All the Indigo-ites (Hegley and Clarissa were left in charge of the sloop), Codlik, the surfeit of brothers, Madame de Sade, Aleister Crowley (he helped Madame de Sade onto the truck, and got dangerously excited when she accidentally sat on his head), Thetis the Scarlet Woman, and last (and in all honesty, probably least) Victor the Great God Pan. All conveyed themselves to Starhanger in the truck and hay-cart.

Once at Starhanger serious work was undertaken immediately. The house had to be searched for more bodies, and these had to be buried in the grounds. It turned out that only two could be found, the Ghoomer on the stairs and the man in the basement. Kieran strongly suspected there were more around somewhere, and that they may be in the very lower reaches of the house. In the meantime the two they had found had to be interred, and Hillyard, Hoowie, Rumble and Farnol set to work digging graves at the far eastern end of the extensive grounds that surrounded Starhanger House.

Toppy began scrubbing the stair-carpet where the Ghoomer had fallen. Lonts and Tamaz fed the dogs in their pen, who had now subsided into an exhausted, whimpering state.

Adam took Joby and Bengo to suss out the cavernous kitchens on the ground floor. Bengo remarked that Sade had certainly liked his grub at the Chateau at Lacoste, and the larders did turn out to be well-stocked. In the pantry they found two kitchen-maids huddled together on the floor at the back. Both were in a highly distressed state.

“It’s alright”, said Joby, stretching out a hand to them “We’re with Kieran, no one’s gonna hurt you”.

When they were finally extricated from the depths of the pantry Adam was appalled at how young they were. Both were about 13. They had spent the night barricaded into the pantry whilst “those creatures” (i.e the two surviving Ghoomers) had run around the house screaming like mad demons.

Cooking-brandy was poured down the girls, and then Hillyard was called in from the garden to drive the girls back to their homes. No sooner had they gone than Kieran burst into the kitchen in a blaze of temper, and announced that he wasn’t going to conduct the funeral after all, as “Fetish the Crimson Woman” had announced that she wanted to conduct a service jointly with him. Thetis in fact had turned up that day dressed from head to foot in black, and sporting a wealth of crucifixes and other ritualistic pendants around her neck.

“Well can’t you humour her, Patsy?” Adam sighed “It can’t possibly do any harm”.

“She’s a focking heathen!” said Kieran, who showed every inclination that he now wanted to be the one who locked himself in the pantry.

“Those bodies have to be interred”, said Adam “The others have spent hours digging the graves”.

“And it’s going to rain later”, said Bengo “The ground’ll get all muddy … and well it’ll just be a mess”.

“Don’t pillock us about, Kieran”, said Joby.

He propelled Kieran to the back door and booted him outside. He then bolted the door on him.

“I will never understand if I live a 1000 years”, said Adam “Why the Irish can be so wonderful about most things, and so utterly impossible when it comes to religion! I would have thought that Thetis wanting to mumble a few words over a grave was about the very least of our worries somehow!”

The rest of the day was taken up with re-starting the generator (housed in a shed just beyond the kitchens), investigating the rest of the house – bar the basement – for anyone else lurking there, chucking out the chamber-pots which were festering in the main front room on the ground floor, and generally trying to make the place more habitable.

Little socialising between the groups went on at this stage. The Indigo-ites ate separately from the others, and a game of billiards had to be hastily aborted when Codlik mentioned Glynis in a self-righteous way and Hillyard looked set to attack him with his cue. It was still fairly early in the evening when they all decided to retire for the night.

“You o.k, mate?” said Hillyard, coming into the large bedroom which was directly over Sade’s study.

“Yeah”, said Joby, who was lying in bed reading a gardening magazine. Tamaz was splashing about in the bath in the en-suite bathroom next door.

“Kieran’s been putting it away a bit this evening hasn’t he?” said Hillyard, sitting down on the edge of the bed.

“I’ve been too busy to keep an eye on him properly”, said Joby But don’t worry, he sticks to water as from tomorrow!”

“Hillyard!” Kieran lurched into the room “Julian’s wanting you”.

“Right”, Hillyard adjusted his crotch and left.

Joby had to get out of bed and help Kieran over to it.

“There’ll be none of this tomorrow, I’ll tell you that for free”, said Joby “I dunno what use you think you are when you’re completely pissed!”

“It’s all the focking wickedness”, Kieran mumbled “It gets to me. All the evil in this house … aren’t you shocked by it?”

“So far it all just looks sordid to me”, said Joby, undressing Kieran “But I think I’ve been too occupied to let it filter in much. Doubtless it’ll all get to me later”.

“The girls”, said Kieran “They were abducted in town by two men in masks, can you believe it?”

“Yeah, unfortunately”, said Joby “I remember hearing summat like that back in our time once. It was probably those guards who dragged in Mieps and beat him up, the ones we can’t find. At least we found the kids before Sade got round to putting his sweaty mitts all over ‘em”.

“He might not have done, ever”, said Kieran “Kitchen-staff to him were invi … sacred. They did the food, you see”.

“Try and get some sleep now”, said Joby “It’s been an exhausting day, and I don’t expect tomorrow’ll be much of an improvement somehow!”

“This is a really stupid idea, Bardy”, said Bengo “Adam found us a nice room downstairs, just opposite Julian’s, and you decide we have to sleep up here. Why?!”

“I just thought someone should keep an eye on this part of the house”, said Bardin, putting his gun under his pillow. The two of them were in the windowless bedroom up on the top floor “You won’t see all the shackles and stuff when you’re asleep now will you!”

“It’s depressing up here”, said Bengo, sulkily pulling the blankets around him.

“Well think of something cheerful then!” Bardin exclaimed “Like, what was our funniest visual gag we ever did for instance?”

“I don’t know”, said Bengo “Probably any time I clouted you with a custard pie!”

Bardin muttered under his breath and got into bed.

“I hope we’re leaving the light on”, said Bengo.

“Of course we are”, said Bardin, turning on his side “Go to sleep”.

The shackles rattled softly in the far corner.

“Bardy!” Bengo gasped.

Bardin sat up, his eyes round with horror.

“It m-must have been a draft”, he said.

“How?” said Bengo “There are no windows up here!”

“Well … um”, said Bardin “Coming up from the lift shaft then”.

Immediately there was the sound of someone activating the lift from the bottom of the house.

“Let’s get out of here”, said Bardin, scrabbling out of bed “Come on, quickly!”

They fled clutching their belongings, through the door which connected to the service staircase at the side of the house. Bardin was momentarily tempted to hide behind the door and see who, or what, emerged from the lift, but Bengo pulled him down the stairs.

“What did Julian say?” Bengo asked, once they were both safely installed on the first floor. Bardin had gone across the corridor to tell Julian what had happened.

“He said he’d deal with me in the morning”, said Bardin “And to put a chair under the door-handle”.

“Good”, said Bengo, now getting into this bed “I hope he really wallops you!”

“Fat arse!” said Bardin, getting in beside him.

“Miserable sod!” Bengo retorted.

Bardin had dozed off when he was woken up again by Bengo yelping “Oh my God!”

“W-what?” said Bardin “Is it Tamaz making that nosie?”

“No it’s not!” Bengo exclaimed “Bardy, wake up properly!”

“For a moment I thought we were back on the sloop”, said Bardin.

There was a hysterical shrieking noise from the other end of the corridor, which was gradually getting nearer and nearer.

“It’s one of the creatures”, said Bengo.

Bardin pulled out the gun from under his pillow and tried to hold it steady with both hands.

The creature was now outside their bedroom door. It shrieked and pounded on it. The chair that Bardin had put under the door-handle wobbled but stayed in place.

“I can’t keep my hands steady”, said Bardin.

“We’ll scream back”, said Bengo “It’s not the only one that can make intimidating noises!”

Before he could do so though the creature moved off and was now scampering back down the corridor. From the other noises beyond the bedroom door it was clear that some of the others were emerging to assess the situation.

“Good lad”, said Ransey to a shaken Bardin “You kept your head”.

“Actually I feel as though I’ve lost it completely!” said Bardin “Where’s the bloody freak gone?”

“Downstairs”, said Tamaz “Do you want me to follow it?”

“No I do not!” said Bardin.

“But it’s scared of me”, said Tamaz “It ran away when I came out at it. It obviously hasn’t got my power”.

“Thank Christ for that!” said Bardin “But what about the other one? There are two of them still around”.

“No sign of that one”, said Joby.

Madame de Sade was letting forth an endless volley of French exclamations from her room.

“Somebody shut her up”, said Julian “Toppy, go in and pacify her, I don’t want to have to listen to that for the rest of the night!”

He caught sight of Thetis standing butt-naked in Crowley’s doorway.

“And you put some clothes on, you brazen hussy!” said Julian “One minute you’re walking around like a churchwarden, the next you haven’t got a stitch on!”

“Hey!” Josh called Joby over “I’ve got a whole load of these in my room”.

He was holding up an enema syringe.

“Oh Sade had a whole roomful of those at his Chateau”, Bengo sighed “He’s a complete weirdo!”

“Jaysus, what a night!” Kieran muttered, as he rinsed his face in the bathroom the next morning. He heard a movement and looked round “Oh Addy, thank God, it’s you”.

“Who did you think it was?” said Adam.

“Well the way you crept in all furtive I thought you were Crowley!” said Kieran.

“I did not creep in all furtive!” said Adam “What are your plans for today, Patsy?”

“About the worst I can think of”, said Kieran.

“Descending into Tarturus?” said Adam.

“Going into the basement below the basement”, said Kieran “I hate to think what we’re going to find down there!”

“Kieran’s said that when all this is over”, said Bengo, as he and Joby loaded up the dumb-waiter in the kitchen with breakfast dishes “We’ll go and live somewhere remote for about 300 years”.

“Sounds alright to me”, said Joby.

“Oh yeah?” said Josh, who was sitting near the wood-pile in the corner “And what are you gonna do for 300 years in the middle of nowhere?”

“Ignore you if we’ve got any sense!” said Joby.

“Ah I expect there’ll always be a bit of bottom-spanking to wile away the time”, said Rumble.

This remark was directed at Bardin, who sloped through the kitchen after spending a bit of time alone with Julian.

“As long as you don’t join in I don’t mind!” said Bengo to Rumble.

“Ooh coochy-coo!” said Rumble.

“Ad, Ad”, said Hillyard “There’s a bloke at the back door. He’s just turned up in a van”.

“Now what?” Joby groaned.

They trailed Adam to the back door out of curiosity.

“Butcher”, said the bloke at the back door.

“What?!” Adam exclaimed.

“Butcher from town”, said the butcher “Meat delivery, your usual”.

“Oh good grief”, Adam sighed “That’s what comes of staying in this house, when you said butcher I thought all sorts of unpleasant things!”

“We haven’t got any money to pay you”, said Joby.

“No need”, said the butcher “It’s all on account”.

“Whose account?” said Adam.

“All invoices go to Silling Productions”, said the butcher.

“Do they indeed?” said Adam “Well we’d better enjoy ourselves at their expense then! You can bring it all in”.

An entire van-load of carcasses and dead poultry was transferred to the kitchen.

“Do you normally deliver this much?” said Adam.

“Yep”, said the butcher “Every Thursday, regular as clockwork. Highly valued customer is this place. You’re new here aren’t you?”

“You could say that I guess”, said Adam.

“Adam”, said Lonts “We could give some to the dogs, and then let them out to play. They must be really fed up with being caged all the time”.

“Let them out to play?!” said Joby “How? Chuck someone’s leg for them to bite into?! They’re ferocious guard-dogs, Lonts, not toy-poodles!”

“They’ll be alright when they’ve had something to eat, Joby”, said Lonts.

“Yeah, any of us probably!” said Joby.

Kieran and Bardin drew up plans after breakfast as to who was going on the Descent Into Tartarus. They were in the old servants-hall, which the Indigo-ites had commandeered as their own dining-room, and were unaware that they were being watched by Crowley through some old spy-holes up by the ceiling.

“Have you been doing that a lot?” said Josh, coming upon him in the corridor.

“Trying to unravel the mystery of them”, said Crowley “To get inside their closeness”.

“Yeah it makes you sick don’t it?” said Josh “Even when they’re fighting each other they make you sick!”

The Descent Into Tartarus was stymied drastically though when Kieran found the iron door firmly sealed against them. It was as if it had been hermetically sealed into place, and was impossible to yield.

Kieran led his search-party back up to the ground floor, where Crowley was seated halfway up the main staircase.

“Crowley, you shut that focking door didn’t you?” said Kieran, pointing at him “Using some of your hocus-pocus, I know you did”.

He went to run up the stairs towards Crowley but Julian yelled at him to come back. He then ordered Kieran and Bardin into Sade’s old study.

“You two have got to get your act together”, he said, when they were all alone “No more bonkers ideas like you had last night”, he glared at Bardin, “And you have got to watch your drinking”, he glared at Kieran.

“But why did you stop me confronting him just now?” said Kieran “I’m stone cold sober today!”

“Because I would have thought that was obvious”, said Julian “Crowley is desperate to get into your pants!”

“Well I’m not desperate to get into his!” said Kieran.

“Do you honestly think that’ll stop him!” said Julian “I shall go and see the old bastard myself. You two go and join the others in the kitchen”.

Julian went upstairs and along to the far end of the main corridor, where Crowley had his room. When Julian invited himself in he found Victor arranging piles of books which Crowley had taken from the library downstairs.

“Victor, go and speak to Thetis, dear”, said Crowley “Julian and I wish to converse, alone”.

Victor cast a jealous look at Julian as he obediently left the room.

“Catching up on your reading?” said Julian.

“Monsieur de Sade has an impressive taste in books”, said Crowley “Not as good as the collection of ancient classics I had in my rooms at Cambridge, but in this new philistine world we find ourselves in one must be grateful for small mercies, and get the solace of knowledge anyhow we can”.

“Are you responsible for the sealed door in the basement?” said Julian “Don’t try and lie to me, I remember that trick you pulled with the black cats on our sloop”.

“Oh how you have psyched yourself up to come and see me!” Crowley purred “Believe it or not, I did it entirely for Kieran’s good. I don’t think he is up to going down there at the moment. I saw how he drank last night, I was concerned”.

“That was a one-off”, said Julian “It won’t happen again. Just because Kieran is very sensitive to bad forces doesn’t mean he can’t deal with them”.

“Have you always loved him?” said Crowley “Were you completely bowled over the very first time you met?”

“I thought he was very beautiful”, said Julian “But the love didn’t come until some time after. I still think he’s too thin, and he can be breathtakingly annoying, but I suppose I learnt not to shut him off, and now I’m like a father to him”.

“He must find that very comforting”, said Crowley.

“Keep your sarcasm to yourself, Crowley”, said Julian “Kieran was abandoned by his father when he was a baby, he needs the love I give him”.

“Oh I don’t dispute that, my dear fellow”, said Crowley “My father died when I was a boy. I often wonder how different my life would have been if he had lived longer, and not left me alone with my obscenely pious mother. Kieran and I have much in common with Monsieur de Sade in that respect. Oh how you bridle with such indignation! But I like you, Julian. I’ve usually found many English aristocrats to be such hypocritical bores in the past, cold, shallow, narrow-minded creatures. I find it such an intoxicating relief that you are not the same!”

Julian was furious that Crowley seemed to have “tricked” him into talking about Kieran more than he had wished. He went downstairs and ranted at Adam. Adam though was worn out with work and worry, and told Julian that he was simply smarting because in Crowley had met his match.

“You go around everywhere”, said Adam “Bombastically chucking your self-confidence and arrogance at everyone. It’s nice that someone’s got one over on you for a change!”

“Whose bloody side are you on!” Julian shouted back.

Out in the yard at the back of the kitchen, Joby and Bengo were plucking two turkeys.

“Stop looking at me like that”, said Joby “Every time I look at you, you’re giving me some puppy-eyed anguished look”.

“I’m worried about you”, said Bengo “You seem really tense”.

“Well this ent exactly my idea of the perfect winter break is it!” said Joby.

“Then why don’t we leave?” said Bengo “We’ve got all the innocent people out of the house now, so why don’t we just seal it up and go?”

“’Cos it aint as simple as that”, said Joby “Look, everywhere we’ve been in recent years, whether it be Lixix, the Village of Stairs, or Zilligot Bay, things have been happening, dark things, and it’s getting worse. And Kieran thinks the key to it all lies in this house, so whether we like it or not, we’re stuck with it for the duration. And don’t you start going all depressive on me, that’s not what we keep you around for!”

“What can I do to cheer you up then?” said Bengo “Shall I take all my clothes off and run around the yard?”

“You’ll catch double-pneumonia, behave!” said Joby.

“Just do your work, Bengo”, said Bardin, emerging from the generator shed.

“Drop your trousers, Bardy”, said Bengo “And show us your red butt”.

“You’ll have one as well by the end of the day if you’re not careful!” said Bardin.

Bengo blew a raspberry at him.

When Joby took the plucked turkeys into the meat-larder, Lonts told him that Kieran was in the servants-hall, “looking forlorn”. Joby went through to there and found Kieran sitting on one of the tables, staring into the fire in the grate.

“Hello, what’s up?” said Joby “Cant’ you find anything to do?”

“There’s fock all for a Vanquisher to do when he’s stopped from doing any vanquishing!” said Kieran “It feels instead like we’re in some country house mystery, waiting for the first murder to be committed”.

“Yeah, it’ll be yours if you keep this up!” said Joby “Who killed Kieran Flannery? I said the sparrer, with me little bow and arrer!”

“I keep feeling I’m being watched in here”, said Kieran, looking up and around the walls.

“Probably the hobgoblins in the wainscotting!” said Joby.

“No, look”, said Kieran, grabbing Joby’s arm “Up by the picture-rail there … spy-holes”.

“Like the vampires had at the Winter Palace”, said Joby, and he shuddered “Brggh, gives me the creeps to remember that!”

“Come on”, Kieran ran out of the room, pursued by Joby “Bet you any money you like it’s focking Crowley!”

Joby tore off his pinny and left it at the bottom of the stairs. They pursued Crowley, who always seemed to be just disappearing out of sight at the end of a corridor, up through the house to the rooms he occupied at the western end of the building, directly underneath Sade’s torture bedroom.

“Victor, please leave us for a while”, said Crowley, when Kieran and Joby came in.

Victor, who had been dusting the books, flounced out in disgust.

“He’d get on well with Toppy”, said Joby.

“Crowley, I’m warning you not to push me any further”, said Kieran.

“Really, I don’t think you can threaten me, Kieran”, said Crowley “Not when the great Vanquisher of Evil can’t even open a door!”

Joby immediately grabbed Kieran’s arms and held him back. Kieran was quite capable of starting a fight with Crowley, even though he was a fraction of Crowley’s bulk.

“Have you ever come across an American author by the name of H P Lovecraft?” said Crowley, picking up one of the books and tenderly flicking it’s pages.

“Yeah, I read him years ago”, said Joby “One of the greats”.

“Precisely”, said Crowley “He was very ‘au fait’ with the sort of evil we may be up against. What lurks beneath this house isn’t just your run-of-the-mill demons and vampires. He understood that sophisticated, ancient evil, the evil that I spent my life studying, could, if not handled with great care and delicacy, cause harm beyond imagining. That it could even change the natural laws of the Universe itself. Now I have the greatest respect for you, Kieran. You are pure of heart, spiritual, extraordinary, a truly religious man, and you certainly don’t lack courage. But your barnstorming Catholic evangelism may well do irreparable harm here if you don’t think this through, very carefully. This isn’t simply about vanquishing one’s opponents with a bludgeon you know”.

Joby felt the anger leave Kieran and released his grip on him.

“I care about you inordinately”, said Crowley “I would like to be regarded as your surrogate father, but alas that role is taken by another, so perhaps regard me as your surrogate uncle instead”.

“Good grief”, said Joby.

“ALEISTER!” Thetis hollered from the doorway “Victor is crying his eyes out at the top of the stairs. Go and see to him”.

Crowley meekly obeyed, like a henpecked husband being ordered to fetch the coal in. Once his presence was gone from the room, Kieran went into Crowley’s en-suite bathroom to compose himself.

“Would you care for a whisky-and-soda?” Thetis asked Joby.

“Yeah, go on then”, Joby sighed.

“You look as if you need it”, said Thetis, handing a glass to him “Aleister can be very disconcerting when he stares at people like that. He has disturbing eyes don’t you think?”

“I try not to look at ‘em too closely”, said Joby, taking a swig of the whisky.

“Very wise”, said Thetis.

“What are you doing mixed up with him?” said Joby.

“There aren’t many men around quite like Aleister”, said Thetis.

“Thank God!” said Joby.

Kieran came out of the bathroom.

“Right, c’mon”, said Joby “I’ll take you back downstairs. Thanks for the whisky”.

“You’re welcome”, said Thetis.

“I spose you’re gonna spend the rest of the day sulking or chewing me ear off”, said Joby, as he and Kieran walked back along the first-floor corridor “You’re as bad as Julian you are. Neither of you like not getting your own way. Underneath it all you’re still the spoilt little boy being adored by his mum”.

“Ach, you’re just jealous!” said Kieran.

Tamaz and Toppy came out of a hidden door which led to one of the service staircases.

“What do you think you two are about?” Joby exclaimed “Wandering all over the house like this?”

“We were putting down meat laced with rat-poison”, said Tamaz “For the Ghoomers”.

“Adam will lock all the food-stores tonight”, Toppy explained.

“So the Ghoomers’ll be desperate for food”, said Tamaz.

“Did you know it’s started to snow?” said Toppy. “Oh God, that’s all we need!” said Joby.

Adam hadn’t seen Julian for a few hours, so late afternoon, as the daylight was fading, he went upstairs to Julian’s room to flush him out.

“Really, Jules”, he said “You don’t want to stay up here on your own, not now it’s getting dark”.

“Why not?” Julian snapped, sat as he was on the bed with a cigar in his hand “Aren’t we allowed a little solitude in this house?”

“You’ll get precious little solitude if the Ghoomers start running around!” said Adam, joining him on the bed “You’re carrying on like a lion with a wounded paw, it’s quite upsetting. And we all miss you”.

“There is nothing for me to do!” Julian protested.

“Well you don’t normally let that upset you!” said Adam “Look, it’s aggravating the way you’re letting Crowley get to you. I’ve got Patsy practically chewing the furniture over him as it is, without you joining in as well!”

“He’s got this place, and all of us in it, sewn up just the way he wants it”, said Julian “He’s controlling everything, and I suppose you approve of that?”

“Don’t be childish”, said Adam “I think Crowley is a pompous fat egomaniac. But he’s also extremely knowledgeable about ‘dark forces’, for want of a better way of describing it. It’s far better we have him on our side, than not”.

Adam flopped back onto the bed and looked up at the ceiling, which was covered in an antique mirror.

“Reminds me of the mysterious house in the mountains”, he said.

“This whole place gives me a sense of deja-vu”, said Julian “Usually of the Big House. Remember that séance we had a couple of Christmasses back on the sloop? It seemed to imply the Big House was a sort of Purgatory … what have I said?”

Adam sat up again, looking shocked.

“Piers came through at that séance”, he said “As though he was trapped there. What short-memoried fools we are! Why haven’t we quizzed him about it?”

“Because he usually makes about as much sense as Codlik!” said Julian “If you really want to quiz him, do it at dinner tonight. What are we having by the way?”

“Roast turkey”, said Adam.

“How very Christmassy!” said Julian.

“Some of the others have been exploring down in the basement”, said Adam “The upper one of course. They found a swimming-pool down there, quite classy really, all white marble”.

“Peachy”, said Julian, sarcastically “We can have a pool-party!”

“I don’t think that idea would be greeted with much enthusiasm somehow”, said Adam “It’s dreadfully eerie down there, and it’s like the Minotaur’s Labyrinth, there seems to be miles of it”.

“Mieps reckoned it ran all under the grounds”, said Julian “It wouldn’t surprise me if it went even further than that”.

“I think it’s where the majority of those dreadful films were made”, said Adam “There’s even a boxing-ring down there as well”.

“If you really want classy I’ll show you classy”, said Julian, throwing open the wardrobe “Look what we found in Santa’s Grotto”.

From a niche at the back he pulled out a large mahogany box. When it was opened Adam gave a gasp of wonderment. It was crammed with a dazzling array of jewellery: diamonds, emeralds and pearls, rings, bracelets and brooches.

“We found it last night in there”, said Julian “I’ve been waiting for a chance to show it all to you”.

“I wonder where it all came from?” said Adam.

“It was got by dubious means, I think we can safely say that”, said Julian.

“But surely Sade would have kept it in the safe downstairs?” said Adam.

“Perhaps he thought it might be too easily found there”, said Julian “Perhaps he didn’t want any of his ‘business associates’ knowing he had all this, no honour amongst thieves and all that. The chances are high he might come back at some point to fetch it all though”.

“What shall we do with it?” said Adam.

“Carry on keeping it tucked away in here”, said Julian “We don’t want Crowley getting his greasy mitts on it all!”

They went down to the kitchen where all the rest of the Indigo-ites were gathered, as well as Codlik and Madame de Sade, who were playing cards in the corner. The guard-dogs were howling from out in the lion-pit.

“Sounds like your lady friend is outside, Codlik!” said Julian.

“I wonder what’s happened to Nola?” said Adam.

“Doubtless we’ll find out at the next full moon!” said Julian.

“Why are the lights flickering like this?” said Adam.

“Because the fucking generator’s playing up”, said Joby “How can we be expected to work in these conditions? It’s all bloody Hillyard’s fault!”

“I’m going out to have a look at it, alright?” said Hillyard, who was putting on outdoor clothing “Stop nagging!”

“You can’t go out there alone, Hillyard”, said Adam.

“I’ll go with him”, said Julian.

“Blimey!” said Joby.

Bardin was sorting through a box of photographs he had brought down from Sade’s study. They were all movie stills, cinematic “masterpieces” from the studios of Silling Productions. Quite a few were of a boxing-match between two buxom girls, naked apart from their boxing-gloves. Another set were of a drinks’ party scene shot by the swimming-pool in the basement. One of the photographs showed a man’s body being pulled out of the water. Most of the “actors” witnessing it looked completely unfazed, apart from a man at the back who was visibly panic-stricken.

“It’s him!” Bardin squawked “The compere at the talent contest we had to judge in town. Bengo, take a look at this”.

“Yes it’s him”, said Bengo “This must have been the party we overheard him talking about, the one he said he wished he’d never gone to. He must have witnessed one of the murders!”

“What was he doing there?” Adam exclaimed.

“A lot of the town has become embroiled in all this, one way or another”, said Ransey “I noticed at the bank that there were some very suspicious movements of cash going on”.

“Laundering?” said Adam.

“Then we’re danger from THEM as well”, said Hillyard “There must be a lot of whispering going on in Magnolia Cove at the moment as to what we’re all doing in here”.

“I wouldn’t bank on it”, said Bardin “There seems to be no reason why they should be afraid. There is no real law in this town anymore, so who would they have to answer to? Let’s concentrate on the problems within this house. That’s enough to be going on with, don’t you think!”

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