Heaven and Earth session 2
Heaven and Earth Session Two: Friday, July 2nd, 1999 (7:00 PM) - Saturday, July 3rd, 1999 (8:30 AM)
As the waitress arrives with food, and the crowd gathers to watch the brave trucker plough into his steak (or small cow as it's described, lying there on his plate), Lydia gets up and says she is going to powder her nose. She hasn't ordered anything so they don't worry about her food getting cold, but when she doesn't return after 15 minutes, the young lady and the man in the wheelchair get a little concerned.
The young lady heads over to the toilets, only to nearly bump straight into a rather odd and unsociable woman dressed all in black. She steps out into the bar and mingles with the crowd. Inside the toilets, the only other person to be found is a woman with no hands who introduces herself as Florence, the owner of the local florist shop in town. She explains the only other person that has been in her while she's been there is Annabelle Visconti who just left (the woman in black). They talk for a few moments (beginning with the fact that Florence seems to be the generally nicest person she has met so far in the town) and she begins to explain a little about the town - Meltdown, the homeless man who wanders the streets, the legend of Pumpkin Pete who thought pumpkins talked to him and eventually drove him to suicide, etc. The young lady heads eventually heads back out to the table whilst, in his wheelchair, the other concerned individual wheels himself outside.
Finding nothing out front, he journeys around the back and hears someone following him. A homeless ruffian by the look of him, muttering something and looking around randomly. When questioned, he says he hasn't seen this Lydia he describes but does ask if the man in the wheelchair has an apple. He doesn't so he wanders off again, mumbling a poem as he goes…
Returning to the table, the trucker is still munching through his steak - but slowing down, evidently filling up. The man in his mid to late forties returns to the table after seeing a few people milling in the corner, taking bets on whether the trucker will indeed finish. The man taking the bets, of North American Indian descent by the name of Isaiah, says the proceeds will be going to the church (he is one of Father Gorand's parishioners, he says - not one of Reverend Geebee's crew from the 'Gas and Gospel'). He places $20 on a 5:1 bet that the trucker won't finish rather than the 20:1 that he will. 'It's been five years since anyone last tried to take on that steak,' Isaiah informs the man and he returns to his table.
All gathered together now - with the exception of Lydia, and the kind gentlemen who helped at the crash, who retires early, going back to the motel (and almost getting tripped up by a brown cat on the way out) - as all five enjoy their evening meal, they begin to introduce themselves as the man in the wheelchair orders an apple along with his desert for later from Suzie, the waitress.
The man in his late forties is one Miles Crookshank, a former resident of the town - he says he moved away when he was about five or six years old - and is a writer, in the area to revisit some old haunts. He's thinking of doing something based on the local area.
The trucker (most certainly slowing down considerably by this point) is Joseph King. He hasn't got much of a story to tell, just that he is an independent trucker passing through in-between contracts at the moment.
From his wheelchair, the third stranger introduces himself as Sheldon Armstrong. He's in town to look into the hospital where one of its wings was renowned for treating polio cases earlier in the century, but it has now been closed for some time, and he wants to know why exactly.
The young lady, Katya Forster comes from a medical background and is looking to start work at the university in town where a new medical school has opened up recently.
Joseph finally, at about two thirds through the steak, can't go on any further. Sheldon leans over and takes a bite of the remaining meal, which brings the a bit more of it up from Joseph's stomach. He sits there trying not to bring much more up, so keeps it down with some beer.
As they are discussing the oddities of the town around them the music from the next room is loudly interrupted by a crash of drums and the yelling of someone over the microphone about all bets are closed at the grand casino of life. Sheldon wheels off pretty quickly (with a lot of the rest of the room) to see a familiar looking homeless ruffian be carried off stage, unconscious after being knocked out by a bouncer. He moves over to the singer on stage and asks her to pass him the apple he got for his desert.
Meanwhile, Katya spots Florence at the bar and asks what all the commotion is about. She says that the person on stage was someone the locals call 'Meltdown' - a name that Florence mentioned in passing to Katya in the toilets. She, and the waitress she talks to moments later, both agree that the guy is crazy and that most people ignore him these days. He's broken into the bar and grille before several times after being barred years ago and will probably be hauled off the drunk tank in the sheriff's office. She spots Annabella sitting being talked to by a woman stroking with her back to her, stroking something cradled in her arms.
Things return to normal, the music begins and Joseph decides to head back to motel… slowly. On the way he is mesmerized by the beautiful leather-clad singer on stage and spends the next hour drooling as he watches her from in front of the stage for the next hour.
Sheldon and Katya head back off to the motel a short while later after finishing their coffee ('DAMN fine coffee!') and pie. Miles elects to stay behind for a while to collect his $100 from Isaiah and talk with the waitress a little more. She begins to tell him a little about the town's history, and starts with the history of the Aurora Motel where they are currently staying - that a previous owner in the 1970's went on a killing spree there one day when he found out his wife was sleeping with someone behind his back in one of the rooms.
She said that she could explain a little more the town's past, but after a few minutes has to make her apologies and leaves him at the bar, saying the best bet for him to follow up is the historical society in town, and/or either talking with Sullivan Pierce who runs the local antique store, or Gideon Tremain (the latter of the two being the less arrogant of the two, so she comments).
Miles watches her slide off into a side booth and meet up with the air force officer he saw earlier. The two kiss in the shadows and he leaves, going back to his car. As he starts up the engine, he notices a brown cat staring through the window that wasn't there a moment ago. He tells it politely to get off, and it does.
Earlier, back at the motel, the hiker has arrived to find Mr. Baker, the owner asleep in the front of the TV in the reception, the ball game highlights playing away to themselves, pizza resting on his lap. He goes back to Room 5 where he knocks for Lydia. She doesn't answer. He tries again and she slowly opens the door, explaining she went to the bathroom and just felt really tired all of a sudden, so she made her way back to the motel before she collapsed. He apologizes for waking her up and goes back to his room.
Not too long afterwards Sheldon and Katya return and the three get together to share around some of the formers rum. Katya heads off to bed not long afterwards. Joseph, when he staggers in, just goes straight to bed, as does Miles (although with less staggering). The last person to hit the sack, about 1:00 AM is the hiker. He returns to his room, only to find the bathroom door slightly open and a light on inside. Knowing he hasn't been in there, he grabs hold of the bedside light and creeps over to the door. Throwing it open, he finds himself alone, but sees the back window has been forced open and that there are muddy footprints all over the inside of the bathroom, as though someone has come in, walked up to the door, opened it slightly and then climbed back out.
Taking pictures of the scene, he moves to the window and can see light coming from the back window of Room 8 - a room unoccupied currently. The smell of smoke tells him it isn't a faulty, flickering light, but fire. He runs out to wake up the others and heads to Room 8, just as the door flies open and a young man, completely bathed in flames (but not burning at all) runs out, blood spraying out of a deep cut across his throat. The hiker tackles him to the ground with is coat, trying to put out the fire. As he does so, the body beneath him goes limp and blood extends out from under him in an ever increasing puddle. Looking at the corpse he finds no trace of burns of fire damage to his flesh or clothes. His wallet reveals his ID (by the name of Peter Philips) and a St Anselm's College pass-card. He proceeds to go and check on Lydia since she is the only person not to have come out of her room (the last of which being Joseph to stagger out of his room). He finds nothing inside but an unmade bed, box of paints and canvas.
Inside Room 8 every surface is on fire and it is starting to burn through the outer roof and into Room 7. Mr. Baker runs up with a fire extinguisher. Takes one look at the burning building and, thinking it is completely ineffective, hands it to the hiker. Katya questions him about who the young man was and what he was doing there, and where Lydia is. Mr. Baker claims not to know anything and in the heat of the moment, overwhelmed by the fact his motel is burning down simply shouts 'you lot are the only people here - there is no-one else!'
Thankfully, only a few moments pass and the wail of sirens can be heard coming from down the road and a fire engine pulls up. Close behind it is a police car, carrying Sheriff Bowman and his deputy, Harker. A public argument breaks out between Fire Chief Aaron Stone and Bowman as the former claims the latter has no reason to be there and the latter denying this.
Harker begins to take statements as the fire is slowly brought under control. Katya tells him about the body and that, having glimpsed the face, she saw the man at the crash earlier. He looks at the body and is thoroughly repulsed, backing away and shaking. Another police car pulls up and a female officer picks up where Harker left off, taking statements and offering them a ride back down to the station where they will put them up for the night because all the other hotels in town won't be open to accept new guests at this hour.
They arrive at the very oddly constructed Sheriff's Office and Courthouse, opposite the New Town Hall, and are shown into an interview room where they give their statements. The hiker introduces himself as Charlie Smith, hands over the ID of Peter Philips and also informs them about the break in to his bathroom. This annoys Sheldon somewhat, but is calmed by the fact that Charlie was about to tell them about the break in but was distracted by the end of the building going up in flames. The rest inform them of what they saw, and Katya offers to help on the forensic side of the police work if needed - something that the officer says will have to be talked over with Sheriff Bowman.
They are promptly shown to their cells (and Charlie to the showers since he is covered in Philips's blood) where they find Meltdown in the far end cell, talking in his sleep (in Latin) and holding the apple in his crossed arms. Sheldon goes to sleep listening to his walkman; Joseph demands an extra mattress since he can't sleep in his rig (and gets it); Miles makes some notes in a pocket book before retiring and Katya curls up on her bunk. Charlie is the last to return to the cells.
The night passes uneventfully.
The group awakes to the sound of a frying pan being rattled against the bars and are informed by their friendly female officer that the Sheriff wants to speak to them. Meltdown in the far cell has disappeared. The female police officer says they're used to it, that they can't keep him locked up forever - he just walks out whenever he likes.
The Sheriff waits in his office, looking like he's been up all night (unsurprisingly) and informs them of the situation. They are out of towners, caught up in two incidents within the space of half a day, and one of the town's folk has been murdered. They look like the only suspects in the case, and Sheldon begins to protest that this is sounding like a veiled threat, especially when he comments that 'evidence may always be found to say you did it'.
The Sheriff informs them that their resources are spread very finely between their mandatory courthouse duties, the murder scene, the upcoming 4th of July celebrations, keeping the roadblocks active around the town - because they have no evidence the killer has left town, so they are keeping everyone from leaving and keeping visitors out - etc. So, as he comments he's had to do before with the murders up at Visconti's hotel (and even more so needed now because of Quinn Harker's MPD coming to the surface after the trauma last night, pushing him over the edge and leaving them working with less officers, so they need the manpower), he hands out deputy badges and tells them this is their chance to clear up their names in this matter. 'Either find out which one of you, or whoever, did it - or pin the blame on someone else, I don't care.'
Charlie pushes for pay and the Sheriff finally gives in for the going rate, whereas Miles is more interested in getting a uniform. Concerns over lack of weaponry for self defense (because there is a murderer out there) are raised and the final word from the Sheriff is that he will issue them batons and nothing else, because they are still potential suspects themselves.
So, they are shown out and instructed to get to work. Sheldon asks to see any files they have on Meltdown, because he finds it curious that they have a homeless ruffian out on the streets that everyone says has always been there and can miraculously escape from locked jail cells. Bowman says he can use the police computer if he wants to access their files but the others say they will get to work after breakfast (for which Bowman gives them $10 each to go down to the Bel-Loc Diner two blocks away).
Outside, they make their way to the diner were they find Meltdown on the far side of the road, jumping up and down and spinning like a ballet dancer. He yells something incoherently that a couple manage to distinguish, but that Sheldon recites easily, having heard it the night before outside the back of the Bar and Grille:
"In the darkness a bet was cast, In light its end we shall see. One goal for two to fight between, This, man was born to be."
Sheldon calls across to Meltdown about whether he liked his apple and gets the reply of 'why don't you eat it sometime?' With this, Sheldon says he will catch them up at the diner and goes back to the computer to retrieve the files on Meltdown. The others head into the diner, which is pretty busy and populated by students at only a little before 8:30 AM. They order breakfast (and to their shock and surprise, find Joseph ordering a full meal, on top of what he had last night). They begin to tuck into their meal as, back at the police station, Sheldon finds Meltdown's files are classified and that for access he is to phone a number given on the screen. It puts him through to the Powell Air Force Base.
The lady on the phone explains that the files are restricted on the grounds of National Security. He pushes for more information and is put through to one Colonel Lemar who explains, given the circumstances, he can answer any questions that the deputy may have that doesn't reveal any classified information. This leaves Sheldon at a bit of a loose end because he says he needs to know what's there before he can ask any questions about Meltdown. He begins with what is the man's real name, and is told that 'Meltdown' is the only name that they have on file for him. This leaves Sheldon even more perplexed and Lemar ends the conversation by saying that if he has any more questions at a later date, he can call him at the air force base.
Sheldon hangs onto the phone to wait for Lemar to hang up and hears the phone miss the cradle at the other end, and hears over the line the Colonel asking his secretary to get hold of the 'red tie division' about a 'greyscale' matter. At which point, it seems as though he notices the misplaced cradle and the line goes dead…