This is a companion piece to my post “Eight Points of View – Omniscient Third”

Professor Ellar, Garrett, and Dora reached the center of the warehouse. As their eyes adjusted to the dim light, they found themselves in one of the most confusing places they’d ever seen.

Garrett immediately noticed the hundreds of skulls lining the walls. He assumed that these were the remains of Vasco’s previous victims. They reminded Ellar of the catacombs beneath Paris. The purpose of the pentagram drawn on the floor remained a mystery.

But as soon as Dora saw that sigil, she knew that it was the source of the evil radiating from this place. She saw blood dripping down the drain, candles flickering, and something moving behind the red curtain at the far end of the room. Yet the blood and candles were just in her imagination, and that curtain was perfectly still.

Garret saw that she was staring at nothing with wide eyes. “Dora?” he asked concerned.

“Are you alright, Ms. Marcel?” Ellar asked. It looked like she might be on the verge of a panic attack.

Dora knew she couldn’t lose her grip now. “We have to find Dr. Allen,” she told the others. “We have to get her out of here now.”

Ellar could hear the determination in her voice. She was being brave for her friend. He decided to leave Dora be, and Garrett followed suit.

The three silently separated. Dora stayed frozen in place, staring up at the constellation of lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling. Ellar studied the pentagram and the smaller symbols written around it. Garrett walked along the stacks of skulls and saw numbers carved into each of their foreheads: 331, 573, 646.

Vasco entered the room through a door beside the curtain. “Don’t touch those,” he told Garrett. “Old bones are awfully fragile.”

“You!” the boy exclaimed, drawing the others’ attention.

Vasco walked forward and casually unrolled the sleeves of his stain-splattered, oversized shirt. Garrett guessed that the stains were dried blood. Dora thought they might be chemicals. “Professor Ellar,” Vasco began, “I’m not surprised you’re here. Unfortunately, you’re too late.”

“Where’s Dr. Allen?” Dora demanded. “What have you done to her, you monster?!”

Ellar and Garrett stood in front of Dora, protecting her from Vasco. “I know you are behind the kidnappings,” Ellar said. “What I don’t understand is why. What is this place? Why did you bring your victims here?”

Garrett added, “Why are we too late? And what about these?” The skulls lining the walls. “Are they your victims too? Do you keep their bones as some kind of sick trophy?” The angrier Garrett became, the more his voice cracked.

Vasco chuckled. Garrett was giving him too much credit. “Those people are long dead, kid,” he replied. “I simply gathered them here for tonight’s ritual. My victims, as you call them, have an important role to play.”

Dora wondered what this role was. Would they be sacrificed? Would Vasco spill their fresh blood to summon evil incarnate?

Garrett asked, “What kind of ritual?” Ellar wondered the same thing.

Vasco answered, “You’ve seen how divided this town is.” How it treats outsiders and those who don’t live up to their expectations. “How it hides its rotten soul.” Vasco knew what people were saying about Professor Ellar and young Garrett – that they were more than friends. “That ends tonight.”

Ellar had no idea how a ritual would cure this town’s ills. Garrett wondered if Vasco was crazy as well as evil.

Vasco stepped on a pressure plate hidden in the floor. The door Ellar, Garrett, and Dora came through slammed shut. A metal grate fell down in front of it. Panicking, Dora ran. Blue electricity converged on her as soon as she touched the grate. The shock knocked her backwards.

Garrett rushed to her side. He called her name and shook her. She was breathing but unconscious.

“What is the meaning of this?” Ellar demanded of Vasco. “Why are you locking us in?”

Vasco didn’t expect to hear so simple a question from Ellar. “I can’t have you calling the police,” he said, smiling. “You know too much.” He looked at his watch and noted the time. “Excuse me. I have a lot of work to do,” he said and quickly left.

Ellar slowly traced Vasco’s steps. As much as he feared for Dora’s life, there was still a case to solve. He needed answers that only Vasco could give.

“Professor?” Garrett asked, curious what the professor was doing.

“Stay with Ms. Marcel,” Ellar instructed. “I’ll come back.”

Garrett understood what the professor wanted to do, so he simply replied, “Be careful.”

Ellar nodded then followed Vasco.