Starkweather-Moore Expedition: Beyond the Mountains of Madness

September 8, 1933

Douglas’ funeral. The investigators talk to his brother (see Philip’s statement).

Still unable to reach Acacia Lexington by phone, the investigators decide to go and see her in person. As they drive up they notice a small car that has parked neatly just outside the gates. A man in his fifties exits the vechicle, expensively dressed in a dark suite and top hat. He’s carrying a briefcase and his manner is straightforward and buisnesslike. He follows the curve of the driveway, approaches the house and is lost to view. Before the investigators can exit their car however he returns, but not alone. He is still carrying the briefcase, but a younger man with a broad chest and atheltic build is accompanying him. They quickly walk to the street without talking and a car drives up, they get in and the car leaves. The old man seems tens and restrained, the younger man had one of his hands in his coat pocket the whole time. It becomes clear to the investigators that the old man has been kidnapped.

Acting quickly they decide to follow the car, which drives away at high speed. Fortunately it keeps a fairly straight route, and they mange not only to follow it, but remain undetected.

The black auto drives to the northern end of Manhattan, to a small rundown warehouse on West 210th Street, against the Harlem River Canal. The warehouse door is rolled open and the automobile drives in. The warehouse door closes. All is quiet on the street once more. The warehouse is a rectangular twostory building of concrete and iron sheeting on a quiet street by the river. There are small alleys on either side, and a decaying wooden pier extends into the river from the back. The windows are stained and grimy. There is no sign of life around the place.

Scared of what might happen if they do not act at once, the investigators take it upon themselves to find out what is going on and to come to the aid of the old men if need be.

The sneak into the warehouse on the ground floor. The warehouse is two stories high. There is a ground floor and an upper loft. The ground floor of the warehouse is made up of two rooms, a small square office area and a single large open space for storage. The office is a 10′ × 8′ room, now containing only a battered wooden desk and a dark green metal wastebasket. The drawers of the desk are empty save for a small box of metal screws and a dusty 1932 wall calendar. There is no chair. Two doors access this room, one leading to the street, the other to the interior of the building. Two small frosted windows face outside; a third window, clear but no larger than the others, looks into the front of the warehouse. The dusty room is clearly unused, and has a faint sad air of abandonment. The main warehouse floor is open and largely empty. The floor is stained concrete.

The ceiling, two stories above, is all but invisible. Faint light seeps in through begrimed windows high along the side walls and around the edges of the ceiling air vents, but this is scarcely enough to pierce the gloom. One electric light burns high up toward the back of the building, but much of the rest is in darkness. The black automobile is parked neatly by the front door. It is the only thing in the building that is clean or new.

The investigators hear sounds coming from the loft and sneek upstairs. The upper loft is sturdy and well-made despite its age and disuse. It runs along the south wall of the building, about ten feet wide, and is twenty feet deep along the west wall. The floor is made of thick planks on top of steel beams and is strong enough to hold heavy cargoes. It does not creak or sag when walked upon. The sounds come from northwest corner of the loft. Sneaking even closer they hear the following:

Q: Where is Herr Professor Dyer?
A: I cannot tell you. I do not know.
Q: Where is Herr Danforth?
A: I do not know who you mean.
Q: Who else knows about Pym’s
book?
A: I do not know what you mean.
Why are you doing this?
Q: What was your business with
Lexington?
A: I was trying to persuade her not
to go to Antarctica.
Q: Why?
A: As a favor to a friend.
Q: Who?
A: William Dyer.
Q: You are not being helpful, Herr
Roerich (sounds of an impact).

The investigators spring into acion, two of them carrying pistols. Surprised the three abductors seem confused, but then one of them acts. He draws a pistol and things take a turn for the worse. A split second later the room rings out with gunfire. Bullets fly and two of the abductors go down. The third fights his way downstairs, before a bullet finds its target and he collapses. Gasping and coughing blood he expires before the investigators can question him. A sound of an engine pulls them away. Running out onto the dock they see a motorboat speeding away, a lone figure piloting it.

The old man is unconcious and bears sing of having been beaten up. The dead men have little in the way of clues on them:

1. Pistol, large knife, $80 in bills, German passport in name of Anthony Sothcott, cigar case containing six spare bullets for his gun.
2. Belt knife, passport in name of Harold Gruber.
3. Lock picks, multi-head screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, German passport in name of Michael Borland, small revolver.

When he wakes the old man introduces himself as Nicholas Rerich. He is 59 yrs old, speaks with a cultured russian accent and is most grateful for the rescue. He offers them a reward for their help, which they politely decline and the asks to be taken to hospital.

Roerich explains that he has come to New York on charitable business, to raise money for the relief of starving men and women around the world. Recently Roerich received a letter and a package from a friend, Professor William Dyer of Miskatonic fame, who has been living in the South Pacific for the past year or so.

The letter urged Roerich to go to New York on Dyer’s behalf, to beg Starkweather and Moore as strongly as possible to cancel their plans for the expedition. As a last resort, Dyer wrote, Roerich was to give them an enclosed sealed manuscript. “I was bound for Manhattan anyway,” he smiles, “so it was simple to agree.”

The manuscript, the letter continued, was Dyer’s written account of the facts and fate of
the 1929 Miskatonic Expedition to Antarctica.

Roerich has been in New York for only two days. His letter to Starkweather has not been answered, and his telephone messages have been ignored. So far he has been unable to arrange an appointment
with either of the expedition patrons. News of Acacia Lexington’s imminent departure came as a surprise to Roerich; he was unaware, before his arrival, that she too planned to sail south to the Ice. Roerich explains that he was once a good friend to her father, and knew Acacia as a young girl. Ignored by Starkweather and Moore, he decided to take Dyer’s plea to Miss Lexington in hopes of a more receptive audience.When Roerich went to the house, manuscript in hand, he was intercepted by the kidnapper before he could ring at the door. The other man showed him a gun, asked his cooperation and assured him that if he was helpful he would not be hurt. They got into the black car and drove to the warehouse.

The greatest tragedy of all, Roerich insists, is that the thieves who kidnapped him have made off with Dyer’s manuscript. Roerich himself knows few of the details and has not read the work—he cannot reconstruct it himself, and is unable to contact Dyer.

The remainder of the 8th is spent in final preparations for departure. Moore indicates that the investigators should have all equipment and personal items moved aboard the Gabrielle and be fully stowed by 3 p.m. on the 9 of september.

Tired after a long and tiresome day the investigators decide to move the rest of their belongings onto the ship and spend the night there. They arraive at eight and retire to their cabins, meeting an hour later to have a drink or two in the communual area of the Gabrielle.

However the long day is not over yet. Sometime after 10 pm they hear a commotion and a voice yells out «Fire! Fire!» Rushing up on deck they see smoke and flames coming from one of the expedition warehouses. Acting quickly they investigators hels prevent a major disaster. Not only do they aid in putting out the fire, they rescue three unconcious workers from the flame. Unfortunately a fourth is found later, dead.

Doing so they notice a suspicious persons sneaking away and give chace. Catching him as he attempts to climb a fence, they subdue him and wait for the police.

It becomes clear that this is the man who set the fire. His name is Jerry Polk, small time crook and now murderer. The investigators learn the following from him before giving him to the police:

Five days ago Polk was contacted by a red-headed man called Doyle. Doyle paid him $100 when Jerry agreed to set fire to the warehouses of the Starkweather-Moore and Lexington expeditions. For each successful fire he was to receive an additional $200, to be picked up the following noon beneath a bridge in Central Park.

Along with the police they set a trap for the mysterious Doyle the following day.

As the rest of the fire is put out they notice that the Tallahassee, the ship of the Lexington expedition has set sail and is leaving the port.

The Gabrielle is towed to an undamaged port further down the river.

Their quick thinking and heroic actions have certainly saved the expedition and both Starkweather and Moore is deeply thankful.

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Tbird

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