Barnum Institute of Science and Horror

I pull it out and reach around to see if I can feel anything

Annie called out to the “ghost girl” telling her it was okay to come out again. Then, the two joined the others in the Sixth Grand Saloon.

Angus was a mental mess: he was twitching and turning sharply in response to the eerie shadows and sounds that surrounded and threatened him. At the request of Douglas, Scott relieved Angus of his guns, just for the time being.

The investigators headed off in search of the Seventh Grand Saloon. Faced with two stairwells leading up, and no clear signs as to which was the correct path, they chose to go left. The stairwell was lined with an expensive and decorate brass hand rail, and at the top of the stairs was a hallway with a sign that read “The Lecture Hall” pointing left. Of course, they decided to go the other way and entered the “Office – No General Admittance”.

Inside the office they found a dusty bookcase, a desk, and another door to a storage closet. Scott investigated the bookcase, Elmer investigated the closet, and Annie investigated the desk. There was nothing of interest on the bookcase, and the closet held only a single large crate full of bundles of “ready to print” but un-assembled pamphlets. However, the lowest left desk drawer contained a hidden bottom with a folder that contained a Post Bill advertising Joice Heth as an attraction, along with several very interesting documents.

Letter from Bowling to Barnum
Bill of Sale – Joice Heth
Letter from ST to Barnum
Journal Pages

As Elmer was leaving the closet, he noticed a large poster-sized blue paper with white lines and writing tacked onto the wall. Upon closer inspection, the group determined it was a blueprint of this museum, and that it showed a very interesting addition – a stairwell to a fourth level: the attic. Consulting her notes, Annie commented: “Oh yeah, three floors and an attic.”

They left the office and continued down the hallway to take in the grandeur of the Grand Lecture Hall. They stood at the entrance, taking in the awesome views: “Meh, boring.”

Heading back down and then up the right stairwell, they soon discovered that the stairs and walls were inundated with tree roots and ivy. At the top they discovered a tropical forest, with thick vegetation covering a tall stone object just ahead, and blocking any passage to the right. Attempting to clear the vegetation by hand resulted in more damage to Douglas’ hands as the vines lacerated them; but Scott was able to quickly get the situation under control with his small but reliable pocket knife. The mystery object was an old fountain.

Forced to take the long way around to the attic stairwell, the group encountered several inanimate jungle creatures, although there was also clear rustling in the underbrush. A young boy of about 15 suddenly leaped out in a threatening and accusatory manner. After some discussion (and chocolate) he led them to his cave where he explained his plight.

“My brother, Benjamin, and I broke in here because, well, the museum is abandoned. We heard a drumming, found a neat looking game, and took it up here. At first it was fun: the whole place turned into a tropical forest – which was cool! Then monkeys came, but we drove them off. Then there were tropical birds, and that was okay. But then the vines came, and that was scary because they cut us up pretty badly. We tried to get out, but the vines blocked our way – so we knew we just had to finish the game to escape. Next came crocodiles, and when the lightning came we ran between the cages. But when Benjamin was just 2 spaces away and it was my turn, well, the game took him away. Look:”

He pulled away a coat to reveal the game, and the center crystal read: “With one more roll the game is done, for player one will win. But you must find where he has gone, before this game can end.”

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“I found him, but the lions have him – and there’s crocodiles!”

At the mention of crocodiles, the ghost girl shrieked, exclaiming that crocodiles are mean!

The boy, Caleb, led them to where his brother was being held captive. On the way they passed a tall structure of ivy and dead leaves – atop the 20’ pile they saw a stone head of P. T. Barnum!

Benjamin was in the Savannah, across a small river, and guarded by lions. The waters were infested with live crocodiles waiting to attack anyone foolish enough to try to cross. Scott tried to convince the ghost girl to scout ahead while Annie reassured her that she couldn’t be hurt because she was already dead. But the girl was completely freaked out by the crocodiles. “No, I won’t go. Alligators are nice, that’s what he said. But, crocodiles are mean! They bite you and chase you and kill you! I won’t go, I won’t go, I won’t go!” and with that, she ran away.

Scott went further downstream and ran across the knee-deep water. He made his way to the boy, and found both lions and boys to be nothing more than taxidermy replicas. However, when he touched the boy, the lions came to life – he backed away quickly and all went back to its non-animated state.

Pulling Angus’ gun, he shot the lion in the head. In response, it came to life and dug its heavy clawed paw into his shoulder, forced him to the ground, and then raked down his body spraying forth shards of flesh and internal organs.

The scene was intensely gruesome, and yet, somewhat enticing to Elmer. His mind went back to the many cultures he had studied, some that regularly practiced cannibalism; and he was suddenly intrigued, and just a little bit hungry!

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