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October 1888. Siege in the Travellers' Club

We were all having lunch in the travellers club. Blimp had brought in a guest, some MP called Wilfred when a commotion broke out outside the club. Outside was a gentleman who had collapsed in the street. [Blimp: it was rather unseemly of some of my colleagues to leave the table over such a matter while we were still at luncheon. However, I got to eat Mr Hyde-Whyte’s plum duff as he became otherwise occupied.] His clothes were in tatters. Wilfred carried him round to the servants entrance of the club. He whispered about helping Susan then died. I performed a cursory examination of the body. It was covered in boils. There was also a blue substance trickling from his right eye. Wilfred searched the body and found a passenger receipt from the East Indies steamship company in his sock. His clothes came from a tailors in Kensington. I removed his glasses to get a sample of the blue substance and found he had no eyes. His eye sockets just contained the sticky blue substance. One of the club porters reported he had been dropped off outside the club by a handsome cab. A policeman was called and I returned to my lunch. The policeman made arrangements to have the body taken to the morgue. After lunch we took a cab to the docks to pay a visit to the East India steamship company. The individual was called Mr Windebank. He had signed for 1 crate but they still had 2800lbs of luggage waiting for collection. Wilfred arranged for them to be taken to his residence. Gordon and Blimp went to the London carriage company to find out where the Windebanks had been taken. The rest of us went to Wilfred’s residence to look at the crates. They all contained samples of flora, fauna and insects. There was no information about their owner. Gordon sent out for a copy of the new magazine – National Geographic. [Blimp: how coarse!] We then travelled back to the club. In the magazine there was an article about the Windebanks and a Dr Arbuthnot Granger of the University of London School of Tropical Medicine. They had collected samples from Sumatra for the royal geographic society. Gordon had found the address of the hotel where the Windebanks were staying. We took a cab there. Julian and George bribed the clerk behind the counter. [Blimp: even more unseemly behaviour. It only needs to be demonstrated to the lower classes that we are their betters when dealing with them. Bribing them only panders to their baser instinctcs. I was beginning to be extremely concerned about the company in which I found myself.] One of the maids had befriended Mrs Windebanks. Mr Windebanks had been visiting a Dr Ranger. Blimp looked at the register and found the room they were staying in. We got the keys and went up. In their room we found a small leather bag containing a blue transparent stone the size of a pigeon’s egg. When Blimp picked up the stone he found it to be hot. We also found a small diary belonging to Alfred Windebank. While they were collecting their samples Dr Granger repeatedly went missing for days at a time. He then made an inappropriate suggestion to his wife. By the time they reached Pedang the Dr had gone mad. We then travelled back to the club for tea. I spent the evening reading up on Sumatra. [Blimp: I had a much more edifying time at the theatre.] An inspection of the members list revealed Windebank was a member of the Travellers’ Club. Wilfred and Julian went to the Conservative Club to find a member of the Royal Society to ask their opinion about the blue crystal. We met back up at the club in the morning. Wilfred had suffered from strange dreams overnight, and had come out in boils. [Blimp: how typical of a politician!] I advised he use a hot compress and get them lanced in a few days. We took a coach to the School of Tropical Medicine. We finally tracked the Dr Granger to the British Museum. He was looking gaunt. His story contradicted the one in Alfred’s diary. He suggested it was Alfred that had been acting strangely. He also seemed to know Alfred had died from a disease. [Blimp: Dr. Granger struck me as erudite and intelligent gentleman. I was much more inclined to believe his explanation of events rather than a diary clearly written by someone in a distressed state of mind.] In the meantime George went off to find where he lived. He had a residency at the school. George bribed someone into letting him into the Doctors room. [Blimp: tsk!] His room was full of books, and the doctor had been growing cultures in a dish. The cultures were of a blue fungus. One of the books (Quigley’s Tome of Diseases and Cures) open on a desk described the Sumatran blue death of the fearsome cannibal Bataks. The pages detailing the cure were missing. The symptoms described matched those of Alfred. The next day we went to Blackwalls books in Oxford Street. They had a copy of Quigleys, which we bought. Blimp had it delivered to the club. Wilfred, George and myself went back to the School of Tropical Medicine with the intention of following Granger. We waited all day, but finally at nearly 8pm he came out. He went to a newspaper stand and bought a paper. He read something then jumped in a cab and raced off. We followed. He headed to the east end and pulled up in Brigg Street. I followed him to a tenement building. Outside was a policeman. Granger saw him and went round the back. There was a sign saying do not enter above the door. Granger forced the door and went in. I listened at the door and heard voices. One sounded like the Inspector Jones who had come to the Travellers’ Club. They were talking about 2 bodies in the basement. They also talked about plague. Wilfred and George started creeping down to the basement when Granger came rushing up. They had a scuffle which attracted the attentions of the police. There was an argument but the police were not interested in arresting all of them. Wilfred and Granger went back down to the cellar where there were two bodies. I waited until everyone had left before creeping down into the basement to inspect the bodies myself. They were clearly infected with the same disease as Alfred. They had been shaved of all hair several days before their deaths. Their heads had been removed and there was major infection of the brain by the blue fungus. It was obvious Granger had done some quick amputations in his own examinations. I took samples before returning to the travellers club. At the club I started reading Quigley’s. The cure for the fungus was 4oz of blue stone ground to powder mixed with urine of the victim. The cure is drunk and the patient recovers after 24 hours. Overnight I had an awful dream about a large 3 eyed rat creature and when I woke I had a convincing feeling that there was a great evil lurking somewhere in London. [Blimp: I always thought that Tweeny was never quite the same after being hit over the head with a club by some Thugees while we were stationed in India.] The morning papers had a story about a robbery at the Windebanks hotel where the safe had been broken into. We went there to investigate. The Windebanks room had also been broken into. Someone who looked a bit like Granger had been seen in the coffee shop opposite that afternoon. I performed an examination of Wilfred who had come out in boils. My conclusion was that he had been exposed to the blue fungus but had managed to fight off the infection. Blimp invited Granger to the club to discuss the disease, but he failed to show. [Blimp: how extremely rude. Contrary to the opinions of my colleagues, who had already damned Dr. Granger, this was the first time I started to have my reservations about the man. To miss luncheon without any suggestion of an apology is the sign of a cad.] We went to the school where we found he had resigned. We got his forwarding address which was somewhat strangely the Java coffee company. We headed there. George found the owner of the warehouse in a pub. A small bribe got him to agree to let us in. [Blimp: tsk!] The evidence in the warehouse suggested the activity was in the basement so we went down. Wilfred opened the door into the room below. Inside the room was Granger, six black men and the hideous rat creature I remembered from my dream. [Blimp: this was a real shock to me. Dr. Granger was consorting with foreigners!] Granger shouted out 'kill them' and the black men charged. They were armed with blowpipes and swords. Granger had a pistol. I pulled out my knife, Julian and George produced pistols, Wilfred found a piece of wood. Blimp started wielding an umbrella. [Blimp: they were only foreigners for goodness sake! The might and bravery of a true Englishman would be enough to put them to flight without the need to resort to anything as crude as knives and guns. It would appear as if the true Englishman is a dying breed...] We killed 4 of the black men then Granger. When Granger died the other two surrendered. In the fight Wilfred was badly wounded by Granger and I had to perform an emergency procedure to save his life. The rat man did not move during the fight. When Blimp examined it there was a pop and a blue stone popped out of its side. Julian shot it from point blank range but it did not react. He shot it another two times then it waved a tentacle at Julian who vanished. Blimp contacted a friend in the Royal Geographic Society to have the creature taken away. We found Susan upstairs in the warehouse. A week later we received a telegram from Julian who had appeared somewhere in the Scottish highlands and had to walk to Aberdeen. [Blimp: Mr. Fitzpatrick is a flighty writer type of an extremely nervous disposition. I attach very little credence to this particular claim of his. He was probably at home suffering from writer’s block and dreamt up this outlandish explanation to avoid this truth.]

Last updated: February 27, 2014