We return to the 1950s, an era of chrome vehicles, greased hair, flying saucers, and Cold War paranoia.
A man in a clean but worn suit strolls through the Clarkdale hospital lobby in mid-morning. Following the flash of a badge, Nurse Diane gives him a brief update on the current patients. Upstairs, he finds a room crowded with a band of travelers in various clothes, the elegant pictures' star Sophia Nye the most striking of them and in the freshest change of clothes. Special Agent Travis Taggart introduces himself, and gets the lowdown on the misfits' rough night. Dietrich "Derek" Munds, having seen the shine of the badge, ducks out for some air. Dr. Brentner, having patched up the grievously wounded Josephine "Joe" Johnson and stitched up the long cut on Barbara "Babs" Cook, also pops in.
The good doctor has had little patience for the ravings of the strange camping crew, who have been furtively talking of some festering strangeness at the motor lodge out by Squatters' Lake. Maybe bad fish and a bad gutting knife were to blame, and the other patient Sarah's gunshot is probably from one of the group hunting after a few too many. Of course, Special Agent Taggart is keen to listen to the tale, of the at-first-hesitant Joe and the more talkative Babs, who fiddled with her camera, the shutterbug.
Mr. Munds runs his comb through his greased back hair and strolls into the cornershop, ordering a stiff drink in the mid-morning. And he looks like he could use it, too. He's still remembering the movie set he seemed to stumble on last night, the one with that Thing From Outer Space rising up out of the putrid, oily lake. The one where he was supposed to be the hero and the director said, "Action!" and he fired at the horrible thing with the shotgun. Some hero. Those rubber suits sure can take a licking. Jack Keel came on in, too, grabbing a shoulder of whiskey to calm his nerves.
Misters Keel and Munds revisit the scene of the night before with Special Agent Taggart. The walls still sport their new crimson decor with gray accents. The "workshop" of the Brophys was found missing several glass jars, though one left behind had a pool of yellow liquid in it. Two crates lay open with the smell of rot coming off of them, but no threats were about. When Taggart went to investigate the lake, he slipped in the oiled up mud trying to catch some sign of the creature the others mentioned. Coming out, sopping and smelling rather rough, Jack and Dietrich noticed some clump of... could it be porcupine... clinging to Taggart's jacket.
But no, it wasn't porcupine. It was tissue of that creature from the night before, a mass of its flesh with its thick, rubbery integument holding several hollow spines to it. The texture, waterlogged and beginning to rot, seemed batrachian. Struggling with their hospital breakfasts, they added it to an empty bottle and returned to town.
At the hospital, Babs Cook was watching over Jo Johnson, who had fallen asleep in the bed. She remembered she held the book from the night before, the one taken from one the room of one of those horrible old men. "Revelations of Gla'aki, Volume 6" it read. And its text, well, it didn't make for light reading. It spoke of an eternal civilization to come, that would come like a crashing wave into our world.
Meanwhile, in seeming peace, Jo dreamt of... flying? No. Floating. She was floating through a city of cyclopean, alien architecture. It was as if her eyes had broadened, seeing more sides than she ought to of these buildings. And it was so peaceful, the space so regal and calm and endless. The streets below her were wide, but the city's residents were scattered all about, not resting, but dead. While at first they appeared human, as she reached the center of the city they seemed to transform into cephalopodic forms with elongated, tentacle-like limbs.
The city was built like some shining, abyssal star, massive avenues radiating out from this sunken metropolis. Something was writhing up all around her, dancing in long, fleshy protrusions. In the center of the city, surrounded by crystalline altars, she could see it: three eyes on stalks seeing her, seeing through her, calling to her.
Babs was muttering to herself from the book, its words dancing through her mind of their own accord. She was speaking something, words that were meaningful but made no sense to her, when Joe awoke with a start, screaming for a moment, as the others came back to the room to comfort her.
Whatever they had witnessed, it wasn't done with them.
The plan, as much as it stood, was to check with the Clarkdale Regional Natural Sciences Institute on the far side of town. The investigators loaded into their various vehicles and set out. En route, they spotted the sitting figure of one Robert Brophy under a business's awning along the downtown's shaded walkway. Taggart, Joe, and Dietrich surrounded the figure, who looked down unresponsive. For the first, Robert spoke in response to Special Agent Taggart's prodding, but his response was not the easiest to document.
Taggart knelt to look at Robert, who whispered in a strange, unfamiliar way. Robert's words tumbled out, flopping insidiously and purposefully out before them, unsettling the Taggart and Dietrich. Then Robert looked up at them, continuing to speak, as light shimmered off of the vehicles illuminating him. But the light shone on him had a ghastly effect as it seemed to... stimulate something in the haggard, ancient man. While Robert had been obviously aged, he now was degrading before their very eyes! His skin peeled and sloughed off, revealing gums and worn, gapped teeth. His tongue writhed with ancient, inhuman words. Babs Cook ran forward to document the scene, the camera clicking and protecting her from the horrid scene before her, giving her an analytical distance.
And while the decay spread, his words continued ever onward.
Seeing her allies frantic, Sophia Nye shot at the monstrous, aging figure. Her missed round shattered the clothing store window and stirred the others from their stupor. Babs realized with a shock that Robert, now dead and still, had been speaking some incantation, one she herself had just learned from the so-called "Revelations" she had been studying!
In a whir of action, the party searched the block of shops and swept into its alleys. Taggart ensured the customers and shopkeeper that everything was under control. Behind the shop three well-dressed businesspeople stood, two men and a woman. As Agent Taggart spoke to them, they lashed out with bloodlust, their eyes jaundiced and hollow. Joe, nursing her stitches, missed her shot as Dietrich and Karl Wirtz circled around. Dietrich was knocked to the ground by the woman and Karl took a lethal shot at one of the men from the far alley. Taggart took a bite from one of the businessmen, though he also landed a shot. Joe felled him just as Sophia circled round and blasted Dietrich's unwanted paramour.
Bystanders commented that one of the men was Don Howards Jr., his father owned the Building and Loan where Don himself worked. Jack Keel did his best to patch up the wounded Taggart while Dietrich, having made away with the Special Agent's badge, rushed into the Building and Loan full of busying clerks in the mid-afternoon. One Allen Smith caught Dietrich's eye as Allen was more subdued than the others. His yellow eyes belied something more insidious at work.
As Dietrich used his ill-gotten badge to coral the clerks, Karl Wirtz ran upstairs to the second of three floors. A wave of terrified, and some bloodied, employees rushed downstairs. Karl was joined by Dietrich and Taggart while Babs watched Allen below. Seeing the rush of harried staff, Sophia managed the crowd while Joe and Jack rushed around back, making their way up a wrought iron staircase. A handful of bloodthirsty staff rushed the investigators, who were shortly, if lethally, subdued.
Upstairs Don Howards Sr. sat in his office, looking out on Clarkdale. Agent Travis Taggart was the first to approach while the others stood in the doorway, one office locked with the mad scratching of someone, no longer what they were, within. Howards was nonplussed by the commotion in his building. Instead, he spoke of the metropolis, the sunken city, the great civilization that was rising, that he was encouraging to rise all around them. He spoke of the reign of Gla'aki who would guide them all. And as he turned, Taggart and the others saw the gaping wound in his chest, laced with thin red threads but still open, one of the massive venomous thorns still plunged into what was surely a lethal blow.
To be concluded...