Tuesday, January 27, 2009, various points throughout the day.
Chuck and Katrina return to Chuck’s house to find Agatha perfectly fine, having been staying at his house throughout the day. When Chuck receives a phone call repeating something Agatha just said, however, Agatha assumes that she’s being bugged and considers for a moment, finally forming a plan to determine this for certain. She enlists Katrina’s assistance in going to her work and speaking to Kevin Roberts about having a series of X-rays done under the pretense of a collage for some sort of play. They went through the process and she received her X-rays, whereupon she and Katrina return to Chuck’s house. By this time, Chuck is about to meet Clark and Jonah, so he indicates that he will see them later. Agatha, Chuck, and Katrina did, however, decide that the women should stand guard while the men are engaged in the sweat lodge, so Chuck will definitely see them later. He goes off to the mall.
Chuck, Clark, and Jonah meet again at the mall, Jonah hauling lumber. Clark explains that he made a few calls and received permission from the local government to do this. After Clark closes his store, the three go down to the lake to start building the structure. Jonah leaves after an hour or two so that he can get to his Masonic meeting, but Chuck and Clark manage to finish the structure by 9:30 PM.
Meanwhile, Elena spots Reverend Caulfield in the mall. He quietly passes by Claire’s and tips his hat to her.
Additionally, Agatha notices something wrong with her X-rays. Where her left kidney should be, it appears to be solid enough that no X-rays passed through it. Alarmed, she asks Katrina about it, and then returns to work to ask Kevin about it. Among the three of them, nobody recognizes any precedent for this sort of thing, though Kevin suggests she talks to her physician and wishes her the best of luck. Then, Agatha and Katrina return to Chuck’s house to plan until after midnight, when they will go to the lake.
Having finished building the sweat lodge, Chuck and Clark go to get something to eat. Chuck is immediately struck by two people who seem off — a construction worker and the goth kid from the mall earlier. Shortly after arriving, Elena calls and swings by to pick up the papers on Reverend Mortimer Caulfield, having called Chuck and explained that the Reverend was actually in her home this morning, and offered her some sort of pact. She then returns home to look over the papers before she meets them by the lake at midnight.
Meanwhile, Jonah explains to his lodge mates about the Reverend, and shows them the photocopied evidence from earlier. They agree that this is both interesting and unusual, and say they will investigate more later.
Finally, the time comes and everyone reconvenes at the lake. Chuck, Clark, and Jonah strip down and go into the sweat lodge, while Elena waits in her car. Agatha and Katrina arrive within a half hour.
While the others are without, watching, Chuck, Clark, and Jonah are inside. At first, it is merely warm and humid, but soon the light from the coals grows more intense until it is all they can see. They find themselves in a forest — find themselves to be the forest. All the creatures move through it like bacteria on the skin. And throughout the woods is a network of tunnels, though they are not just underneath the woods, but beside the woods and all around the woods. At first, this land held only coyotes, who refused to stay because game was scarse and bear preyed upon them. Then, sheep came to the land, and stayed for grass was plentiful. They were ignorant of bear, and so when bear came to them and spoke to them, they did not know better. Those sheep to whom he spoke were transformed, turned into wolves that attacked and devoured other sheep, bringing them to bear. But knights rode in and slew the wolves, for those wolves had slain a sheep precious to those knights, and they left. Then bear grew hungry, with no one to give him tribute, and started hunting sheep again. Finally, he found a sheep and made that sheep into a wolf…
Eventually, a very disheveled and naked Chuck, Clark, and Jonah came out of their stupor and wandered outside, prompting Elena to photograph them. Once they regained themselves, they tore down the structure and discussed what they saw. However, when Chuck and Jonah started talking about how the vision relates to the Automata and the Snake-Bear, Clark is initially interested, even suggesting that the talk of people being replaced is a little like Irish tales of changelings replacing children that can be differentiated from the original by placing iron in the crib. As the conversation continues, Clark seems somewhat wary of the discussion and politely excuses himself to go home. Chuck calls Elena and Katrina, and the assembled group goes back to his house.
Back at Chuck’s house, Chuck and Jonah explain what they saw, having concluded that the Snake-Bear may be making the Automata that they have encountered, though they do realize that they are not totally certain. After discussing things for a little bit, Chuck and Jonah both display alarm, with Jonah running outside and Chuck clutching at his chest. When they regain their wits, they find that a seal has been burned into their chests. Chuck thinks it is a bad thing, though Jonah believes that it is a sign that they must rebuild the Temple of Solomon. Curious about the thing, Chuck, Elena, and Katrina begin looking online to determine what sort of seal it might be, determining that it has similarity to some of the goetic seals, but they can’t be certain. Meanwhile, Jonah calls Wendel Thompson — the Tawa Masonic Lodge chaplain — and inquires about it before Wendel finally concedes to come to his current location and take a look.
As they search and find that they cannot match the seal, there is a knock at Chuck’s door and Jonah answers it to find Wendel. Jonah explains the situation and shows him the seal, leading him to the others. He sees the seal on Chuck’s chest — and then notices that Elena is present, she being a friend of his daughter’s and Wendel finding it quite interesting as to why she is hanging about with several strange people at around two in the morning. Finally, Wendel admits that this thing is rather out of his league, and wanting to have no part of it, he agrees to see if any of the fellow Masons know anything, but he otherwise won’t speak of it. Before he leaves, he tells Elena that “she got lucky.”
With everything winding down and the hour quite late, Agatha, Chuck, and Katrina go to bed, Elena goes home, and Jonah takes a shower before going out to the woods.
The next day, everyone awakens and engages in their respective routines, dragging for the most part from the late night before. Chuck goes to work, fueled by lots of coffee, and engages in his routine at the news desk. Katrina goes to the dance studio, teaching the little ones and catching naps when she can. Before going home, she purchases a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Elena goes to school, trying her best to get through the day. During lunch, she goes to the library to get a second opinion on her predicament, finding a group of five playing Unknown Armies. The group stops as she approaches, though the man at the table’s head — the prematurely grey seventeen-year-old Johnny Page — cheerfully asks what she needs. She shows him a picture of the sigil from the night before — much to his surprise, as one of the most popular girl’s in school starts rambling about goetic seals and the demon Malphas — and he indicates that, sure enough, it resembles Malphas’ seal but is not the same. He makes a copy of it and says he’ll look into it, giving her information if he finds anything.
Meanwhile, Agatha is researching her kidney affliction. She finds that, while there is little precedent for this sort of thing, some dingbat on the internet claims that he was abducted and his kidney replaced with a protomatter duplicate that is opaque to X-rays. He goes on to rant about how John Tynes and Pagan Publishing know all about this, which is why they included it in Delta Green. Agatha contacts him, and through emails determines that he was on dialysis and learned about this fact when he no longer needed dialysis and X-rays showed his kidney to be as it is. He indicates that it was probably written about in some local journal or other, and that the attending physician was Dr. Bernard Jackson. Using these items, she finds the story in California newspaper, and makes the call to Dr. Jackson’s office in California. She reaches him to find that there is little more he can tell her — everything about the kidney is normal, except for the fact that it is not permeable to X-rays, suggesting that it bends light strangely. He indicates that he probably wouldn’t make the trip out to Indiana, though, and recommends that she consults with her physician.
Meanwhile, Jonah is following Elena throughout the day in the hopes of seeing Reverend Caulfield. While parked a block or so over from Terra High School, he receives a phone call from John Keel. The two talk, with John Keel explaining that most of these myths — aliens, fairies, spirits, and suchlike — are indicative of extradimensional entities that have been meddling in human affairs for eons. He seems interested in Jonah’s story, and suggests that he compile all the evidence to see if a pattern emerges. Additionally, John Keel indicates that he is not terribly familiar with the violent phenomena that Jonah describes; it may be possible that ordinary humans are behind the acts of violence in town. John Keel further says that he will take a look at any documents that Jonah forwards to him, and Jonah suggests that if he dies in the town, John Keel is free to write about this story. The two finish their conversation amicably, and then Jonah continues his stakeout.
Around when school is out, Chuck calls Elena to see if she wants to go to Bishop’s Antiquities today to investigate. Elena agrees, poking around on the internet briefly and taking a nap beforehand. Then, she gathers a few iron nails to arm herself against what may be some sort of fairy, taking a cue Clark’s advice last evening. Finally, she and Chuck meet and go to Bishop’s Antiquities. Unbeknownst to them, Jonah follows. Chuck and Elena enter, and immediate sense the wrongness hovering around Mrs. Bishop. They look around for a little while before Chuck purchases several iron keys and an old iron. When he brings his purchases to the front, Mrs. Bishop gives him a look, and after a bit of an awkward silence, Chuck finally asks Mrs. Bishop if she has been replaced, because she seems strange to him and Elena. She indicates that she was, but she escaped and took care of her replacement. As she determines that they know something about the weird things in the woods and in town, she agrees to meet them at her shop around eight o’clock. Chuck asks if he can bring the others, to which she nervously agrees.
As Chuck and Elena leave, Jonah leaps out with a tire iron asking if they found the demon. Elena screams, startled, and Mrs. Bishop comes outside to see what is the matter. Finally, Jonah calms down and goes into the store to look around, so she says simply that she shall see them later. Jonah purchases a small music box before leaving, although he forgets to take the box with him, and says that he will see her this evening.