The arachnid’s front appendages plunged deep into Edmund McDowell’s chest. One severed an artery and the other fractured his spine. His death was instantaneous.
His friends fared better, but only slightly. After suffering a bite from the mysterious spider-creature, Pipkin had collapsed himself during the fray. Only Prof. Charlotte De Winter was left standing at the end to battle the beast. Fortunately her allies had unloaded a couple of shotgun blasts into the creature before becoming incapacitated.
Things had degenerated quickly and descended into a hellish mayhem that made last week’s suicide seem tame.
James Pipkin had been hired by Edgar and Grace Wilcox, parents of the suicide Eugene Wilcox, to keep tabs on the young man. Understandably shaken by the loss of their son, they found new resolve and retained Pipkin to get to the bottom of their son’s death and bring evidence of the wrong doing by the Vargas.
This made DeWinter and McDowell natural partners of his, and the trio quickly formed an investigative team. Carefully interviewing a number of connected parties who ranged from the very helpful Prof. Morgan to Sylvia Addison’s protective stonewalling servant, information trickled in to help piece together a puzzle. It was clear that the Vargas were con artists, and that the spider form that Gerhard Vwinch had taken during the seance had some role in the death of two young men other than Eugene Wilcox.
Trailing Ariadne had yielded results, too. She placed flowers at the graves of two men, whose obits placed them very much in the mold of Eugene Wilcox. A little underhanded deal with Rudolph Tomaszewski at the morgue gained the team access to the autopsy reports for the two. The most interesting finding there was the presence of bite wounds confirming the spider-fang theory.
At the party on that fateful Friday evening, things were more subdued. After the Wilcox affair last week, it was a bit surprising anyone would show up at the party at all. Ariadne seemed her usual upbeat, social butterfly. Zoltan, however, seemed nervous. He pursued an evasive Ariadne all night. When they finally caught up, he escorted her upstairs after a few terse words. Soon after an unnatural man’s scream from the boudoir was followed by Frida’s voice. Well, not Frida obviously, because the woman known as Frida was far from mute, she had a South Boston accent that you could club a shark with. She screamed that “She’s killed him. She’ll kill us all.”
With that “Frida” ran out the front door. The team ran up the stairs and saw a shriveled Zoltan utter his last final words “Ariadne”. Peeking out the window, Edwin felt a searing pain in his shoulder blade and quickly ducked back in the window. The loud scrambling sounds of something could be heard on the roof and the along the side wall of the house. Bursting through the front door was a massive creature. Not quite a giant spider, because it had vaguely human features. The team let loose a volley of pistol fire to little effect before securing shotguns from downstairs.
In the mean time, the spider-thing devastated the party-goers in her path. This must be Atlach-Nacha “The Mother” that the entranced Gerhard Vwinch had alluded to. She was a frightful creature that shredded her way through those fools who had attended the party that night. After a bloody battle, she fell.
Then came the chilling cries of the children in the attic. “Mommy”. De Winter pulled the squeaking trapdoor down, ascended the ladder, and peered into the attic. The beam of her flashlight caught a couple dozen scrambling spiders with human faces that resembled Zoltan and Eugene Wilcox . . . among others. The tiny creatures all calling for “Mommy” unhinged Prof. De Winter, who started uncontrollably mimicking their cries herself . . . even while she fled and the police arrived.
She gathered her fallen friends in Pipkin’s car and fled. The poison injected in Pipkin had only created temporary paralysis. He would recover. McDowell would not be so lucky. He would be one of many who lost their life in that house that night to the dread Atlach-Nacha.