Barnum Institute of Science and Horror

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Horrible circumcisions that forced them to leave

April 13th, 1894

Annie took a job to look at the museum. She told Douglas and Angus. The three of them contracted Dr. Scott Everest and and Elmer Mannerly to offer their expertise in the paranormal.

The five boarded a carriage, driven by a grungy carriage driver. He took good care of the horses; taking the trip slowly with many breaks.

When they arrived at the museum, they were greeted by the curator, Prof. John P. Marshall, who showed them to the office. Entering the museum, there came a wave of heated wind and a sense of dread and bad omen. "Mr. Malone died in a cafe fire. It was tragic. Let’s continue. Escapees claim that “a glass of milk was knocked off a table and burst into flame!” Others say it was probably whiskey in the milk, and the fire was God’s punishment." He admitted that there have been roughly a dozen deaths.

Some of the group heard skittering. Prof. Marshall brushed off Angus’s concern.

Prof. Marshall grabbed an article from the Times Newspaper Article Nov 21 1893 that addressed some of the incidents; Annie sneakily grabbed a stack of papers, labeled “Leases”, from the desk drawer.

After a brief interrogation by Angus, which yielded little new information, Marshall left. Annie took the opportunity to read the lease agreements. Leases There were sixteen or so contracts.

On the floor level, the entrance door leads to a long L-shaped hall. Directly opposite the entrance is an office. The first leg of the hall ends at a door where it turns to the right. The second leg of the hall contains five suites and the exhibit entrance. Suites 1, 2, 3, and 5 have all been abandoned multiple times. Suite 4 has never been leased.

Douglas recounted a quick historical lesson, regarding the original Barnum Museum and the fire that destroyed it. A defective furnace under a neighboring restaurant was apparently the cause of the blaze:

He decided that Suite 5 was the most interesting, so the bunch decided to check it out. On the way toward the old Malone cafe, they passed the old cobblery, lady’s wear, the general store, and a store with chairs/tables rolls of fabric and debris. Finally they arrived at the end of the hall; the cafe to the right, the entrance to the museum to the left, and an “A-frame” of male busts at the terminus of the hall.

The five busts are: Winfield Scott – US Army General (bottom left); Christopher Columbus – Explorer (middle left); Grover Cleaveland – US President (bottom right); Elias Howe – Inventor of the Sewing Machine (middle right); George Washington – US President (top). Above it all “Great capitalist minds can only thrive when supported by great governmental leadership personal innovation, and discovery. – P.T. Barnum”.

Angus saw a woman walk into the general store. He tried to follow her in, but she disappeared. Angus found a locket where she seemed to have been.

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Angus began to hear a voice “Help me. You must help me. They don’t understand. You have to bring me back. YOU HAVE TO BRING ME BACK!” and the face of Barnum lunged from the locket and passed through Angus’ face. The Irishman decided not to be responsible for this piece of haunted jewelry; he passed the locket to Douglas.

The gang headed to Suite 4 — the unlabeled room. Inside, skittering sounds emanated from a pile of debris. Annie found nothing of interest.

Dr. Everest got a feeling that he should develop some of the pictures he had been taking, and to get back into the cafe. When he went into the hallway, his compass went crazy and pointed again at the busts.

On further investigation of them, Angus noted that the sculpting style of the George Washington bust was different from the other four, and in fact, it was made of a different type of stone. Angus tipped up the bust for Doug to see. Carved on the underside was “T.W. 10-1892”. Other busts were labeled as “J.S.7-1890”.

Dr. Everest got some wash bins to try and develop his film. When he picked up the bins, he heard talking and glasses clinking, and looked up to see the cafe full of patrons. His compass started spinning like crazy. He ended up ordering a glass of milk from Geoff Malone, a dark haired gentleman with a clean shave. He struck up a conversation with another gent in a long black trench coat, who offered Dr. Everest a “spiced milk”, and started talking creepily.

As Dr. Everest tried to leave, behind him a glass of milk shattered, and flames erupted throughout the phantom cafe. He swiftly exited, unharmed and un-phased.

The rest of the group, still apparently discussing the busts, saw him flee from the cafe, as if from a fire, without the wash bins. After describing his ordeal, he went back into the cafe to get them. Angus went with him, for support, taking a seat near the exit. When he grabbed them again, he heard the creepy man’s voice again: “I thought you were leaving.” Turning, he now faced the man in the black trench coat: the face was horribly disfigured, wrinkled, red, and blistered by fire; the lips shrunk back to display charred teeth and blistered gums; a blackened eye oozing and hanging half out of the socket. “LEAVE! NOW!” Dr. Everest tried giving some lip, and the room suddenly burst into fire once more as the dark man quickly faded away.

Angus did not see the man, but did witness the room catching fire. They both fled, but Dr. Everest had to run through flames and smoke to escape. The others in the hall did not see the fire, but the evidence of a burn was very obvious when Dr. Everest escaped the cafe again. He was smoldering, with arm hairs singed, and light burns over his body.

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I've got two figures in that restroom!

April 13, 1894 1:15 pm

Dr. Everest went to setup equipment to develop his film – he would get things ready, and then do the actual work when the timing was right. Angus went with him to protect him. Annie, Douglas, and Elmer decided to check out the other unexplored rooms, starting with the cobbler’s shop.

Everest and Angus had to walk past the shop, and as they did, Angus heard sounds of labor from inside. But when Everest paused to check his instruments, the noise ceased, and his instruments showed nothing; so, he determined that it must have been Angus’ imagination.

Annie started prodding at stuff in the cobbler’s shop, and found that while the place was mostly dusty, the work table was very clean and there were shoes on it that looked like they had been recently worked on. She moved a shoe that was on a workbench – it was clearly recently polished.

Everest began setting up a darkroom in the storage closet in the front office while Angus guarded the door and watched the hallway.

Annie, Douglas, and Elmer moved on to the ladies wear shop. They saw lots of lady’s wear. The shop looks like its ready for business, but had been abandoned. Annie found a pair of footprints in the shop dust that lead behind the counter and stopped. The path of the footprints, Douglas noticed, was almost exactly the same as he and Angus had taken before finding the amulet. Sure enough, Annie checked the ground near where the footprints stopped, and she found a smudge, as if someone had grasped at something on the floor. This was very strange, since Angus and Douglas had actually found the amulet in the General store and were never in this store.

Having set up the darkroom, Everest and Angus opened the door at the L-bend of the hallway, which didn’t have a window and didn’t seem to have a shop space associated with it. He revealed a narrow hall.

Annie tried calling “Hello? Is anyone in here? We thought the museum was open and got locked in!” There was no response.

Everest followed the short hallway to another closed door on the right, and opened it. Within was a garbagey musty smelling room with tools, ladders, buckets, and rotting stacks of paper. In the far corner was a pedestal of angular fashion, with a plaque upon it. “A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce who see and who will pursue their advantages will achieve almost anything” G. Washington to B. Harris 1784.

Annie wanted nothing to do with the pedestal, dismissing it as some common furniture. She was much more keen on a pile of moldy rubbish that used to be blank paper.

She then went back to the cobbler’s shop and discovered that the shoe she had moved was back in place, and a hammer had moved. She took the hammer.

They all went to the archway leading to the museum. Annie found a Visitor’s Guide pamphlet describing what was meant to be in store. Everest found a book describing Barnum’s life.

Everest and Douglas left to develop pictures and peruse the Barnum book, respectively. On their way out of the room, the locket in Everest’s possession began to tremble. When he looked at it, the photo of Barnum became clear, and spoke to the pair of them. “You have to bring me back! They don’t understand!” Barnum’s face flew through Douglas’s, who gained a vision of an ancient ugly haggard black woman shrieking in his face, as well.

In the meantime, Angus and Elmer moved the bust of Washington from the hallway arch to the pedestal in the storage room. It seemed to fit and match perfectly.

“Eureka!” Everest exclaimed after he developed his photographs of the cafe. There were two shadowy figures; one figure hunched over near the center of the cafe (near where the fire started), another, clearly a tall man, stood near the bar wearing a black mariner’s coat.

Further study of the photograph lead Everest to believe that the mariner was the same person as the burn victim that had told him to GET OUT of the cafe, and that the hunched over person may be the same ugly shrieking black woman that Douglas had seen.

April 13, 1894 3:45 pm

Douglas had compiled a list of significant events in Barnum’s life P T Barnum the Great American Showman. The group pored over the list, trying to make connections between the odd events they had witnessed and the tragedies of Barnum’s life.

While Annie was focused on the list and Elmer and Angus were focused on other things, Douglas and Everest began discussing the disturbing message from the Barnum vision they had witnessed. At some point a black beetle with strange red dots that looked like eyes scurried onto the counter. Douglas did not see it, and became agitated when Everest started talking about bugs. The critter scurried off quickly as Annie tried to calm Douglas.

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Everest had another lost-in-time-and-space moment. He went behind the bar in the cafe and flashed back to before the fire, where he worked as a server. He observed that it was apparently the May 21, 1893 (the day before the fire), and at the time the topmost bust of the bust-arch was of Barnum.

He was gone a long time, and no one saw where he went. When Angus looked for him in the cupboards, Angus found the Red-Eyed Beetle again.

Looking near the place where the fire started, Angus found a dark spot. Annie confirmed this was very likely the origin of the fire.

When Everest returned, nearly an hour later. He recounted his tale, and when pressed for more details, tried to go back but was unable to.

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A bear walked in with a bandage on his hand
I reckon... someone here shot my pa.

April 13, 4:15 pm

The gang made their way into the first grand saloon. Douglas and Everest paused to look into the shadowboxes, while the others continued up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs, Elmer found a small creepy doll he thinks is Navajo.

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As he peered from box to box, Everest glimpsed Iranistan and was captured by a scene of an urn and photograph. The photo lay against the urn, and showed Barnum standing proudly next to a decrepit black woman seated in a chair. Someone began dusting and moved the photo, lying it down on the table. After a few moments, from the urn rose a smoke that solidified into the figure of a woman kneeling on the floor. There was a sudden spark, and Iranistan caught on fire. As he turned to leave, a creepy ugly face screamed at him. Though disturbed, Everest took a dark picture of the Iranistan shadowbox and flash photos of the stairway and hallway.

As Annie ascended the stairs, she rolled her ankle. Checking her foot, she found that her boot had been untied and partially unlaced. Angus confirmed that she didn’t break her ankle, but he lost her boot while he checked. Annie and Angus went to the cobblery to get her boot back. She found it there, the laces completely removed, and commanded the spirits of the cobblery to fix the boot! And she left the hammer there.

The lot of them continued forth to the second grand saloon. Angus, Elmer, and Everest wandered and found the “African Vulture Fly” aka Shaggai-Shan! It was on display under a glass dome next to a second dome with several small ovoids purported to be eggs. When Angus came close to the bug-monster, it came to life! The thing bashed against the glass dome! Angus drew his gun, called for help, and stepped away, and saw that the critter once again became inert.

Douglas came over and tried to draw a containment symbol on the bug’s dome, but when he did, the horror came once again to life! It burst its dome, as Douglas had nearly finished his symbol.

Angus fired three rounds in rapid succession, landing two, but wasn’t able to fell the creature. It leaped from the display at Douglas. He parried it to the side and slashed at it with his sword; Annie, too, struck at the thing, knocking it to the ground, where Angus blasted it again. Some lilting music began to fill the air….

….

….

Everyone noticed a busted globe of glass, and Angus had his weapon out. How odd. He holstered his weapon, and everyone once again dispersed to investigate the saloon. Douglas shared that he had found a painting of Joice Heth, and that she was wearing a strange necklace with occult symbols.

The group went to investigate and found the collection of Barnum’s “representatives of the wonderful”: life-sized wax figures, many photos, and two paintings – one of Joice Heth, and the other of Jenny Lind Swedish Nightingale.

Everest also recognized the occult symbols on the necklace Joice wore: symbols of Binding and Control.

Elmer noted that the painting were clearly painted by separate artists. In fact, the painting of Joice Heth was unmistakably painted with a black ink that was commonly used in the 1830’s (clearly recognizable by a slight greenish hue). The signature and distinctive brush strokes clearly indicated that this was a work by Sir Arnold Curther, a famous and well-renowned painter who’s works ranged from 1832 to 1839. The pigments, artist, and composition style highly suggests that the work was done while Joice was still alive – placing its creation around 1835-1836.

Elmer was unable to discern much information regarding the painting of Jenny Lind Swedish Nightingale, except that it was much newer.

Barnum’s Representatives of the Wonderful

Photos

Paintings

  • Joice Heth – she is wearing a beaded necklace with a large circular amulet. The amulet itself has strange occult symbols of Binding and Control.
  • Jenny Lind – Swedish Nightingale – born Johanna Maria Lind (6 October 1820 – 2 November 1887), better known as Jenny Lind.

Wax Figures

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You do get allies

D’art’s computer was upset for the first half of the session, so this section will be extremely brief. so the keeper added the missing notes.

The investigators exited into the Third Grand Saloon. The entrance to this room is a short hallway; the walls are covered with Native American and South American artifacts, including displays of arrow heads, bows, flute, pipe, headdress, etc. A turn in the hall reveals a glass case against the wall. Inside is a placard that simply read: “Mayan and Aztec jewelry”. Inside was a collection of gold jewelry with turquoise, quartz, and jade, several decorated with skulls and serpent heads. One necklace was peculiar: it contained several turquoise beads strung on a fine resin-ed string with a large center circular turquoise stone. The center stone contained an etched and dyed hippopotamus (not native to the Americas). Elmer and Douglas discussed the piece, deciding it was middle-North African – possibly Egyptian.

The hallway opened into the larger room. A large collection of Russian war artifacts occupied a large portion against the far wall. It included a soldier in full decorative dress, but very much in-accurate in attire. He wore a black fur Cossack hat, and Russian army double-button breasted black coat with white cross-stripe. Shoulder patches were stitched onto the coat: one that of a Sergeant, and another that of a Lieutenant General. He was decorated with 3 medals, also a mismatch: a French medal depicting Napolean, a Sudan Africa military medal, and a British medal inscribed with the words: “PUNNIAR 29th Dec 1843”.

As Douglas and Angus studied the Russian artifacts, Elmer turned to revisit the North/South American jewelry display. Blocking his path was another Navajo girl doll; when he picked her up he heard her sobbing: “Please. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.”

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The center of the room was filled with Polynesian and Hawaiian artifacts, including stone Tiki gods, one Moai head, and a display of elongated skulls. Douglas and Angus passed this to reach the Egyptian mummy, but turned to follow Elmer and Scott into the next room rather than investigate the area.

The Fourth Grand Saloon contained the aquarium; a remarkable illusion. It appeared to have a depth of hundreds of feet, and as they walked passed the fish and sharks appeared to be swimming. Scott discovered two merfolk camouflaged against coral that appeared to be over 100’ in the distance. The room also contained a glass case with “the fantastical Feejee Mermaid, from the South Pacific oceans”.

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As Angus entered the Fifth Grand Saloon, he nearly tripped on another Navajo doll and kicked it over.

As Angus backed away, Scott picked it up to hand it to Elmer. He heard sobbing cries: “I didn’t mean to. I wasn’t going to keep it. Please, … please…”

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As the others started into the room, Angus retreated back to the Aquarium room. Very shortly, he felt something lightly touching his left leg. He glanced down and saw something at his leg, lapping at blood that was spilling down his leg and pooling on the floor. He carefully pulled his gun and shot the creature, which turned and hissed as it quickly shot off and out of the room.

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They decided it was late and it would be better to investigate during the day to “get a baseline” first, before continuing with nighttime investigating. As they headed down the stairwell to the first level, they heard noises coming from Malone’s Cafe and Coffee. As they approached, it fell silent. However, the noises were replaced with a loud and slow steady pounding that echoed through the building. As they walked by the Cobbler, the noise was clearly coming from within – but when Douglas investigated, he found nothing but a large strip of leather being worked to include decorative metal studs.

Meanwhile, Angus saw a cloudy mist form over the columns at the end of the corridor, and slowly begin to move towards them. It turned and entered into the General store – but when Douglas and Scott investigated, they found nothing out of the ordinary.

As they reached the end of the hall, they heard loud scratching coming from behind the door to the storage hall. Scott opened the door to reveal 6 very large rats and a large pack of smaller rats behind. Both Douglas and Angus saw the twisted faces of Sherman and Walter on 2 of the rats. These charged at Douglas; he responded by running back down the hall. While Angus and Elmer fought off the rats, Scott slammed the door shut – successfully winning a “battle of wills” against the haggard black woman who somehow clawed at his neck trying to stop him. Turning to fight the rats, the door swung open again, apparently of its own accord, and the group decided to flee and retrieve Douglas. Angus fired several shots into the rat pack, which resulted in the vermin feeding on the carnage rather than chasing after the investigators.

Meanwhile, as Douglas was fleeing down the corridor, the door to the Cobbler opened revealing that the room was now well lit by a lantern. He ran inside, shut the door, and heard someone tapping at the work table. “Yes, what do you need?” a raspy voice asked him. After some conversation, and the mention of Annie, the ‘cobbler’ became angry and leaped onto the counter. It was a horrid creature: short and scaly with clawed hands, horribly wrinkled leathery face, sharp cruel looking teeth, and burning bright yellow eyes – oh, and a fancy green top hat.

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As Douglas attempted to calm the leprechaun down, the Angus (hearing Douglas inside) opened the door to view the scene. He was un-phased, and immediately started greeting the creature with a thick Irish accent. The creature responded favorably and, after a little discourse, Angus gave him his shoes “because they were in a terrible state” – and they continued talking as the creature started cleaning them up.

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Scott pulled out his tool and tried to describe the seaman

Elmer struck up a conversation with the cobbler, who seemed much more amenable now. They learned that he was originally from Ireland and worked for a cobbler named Peter. Peter’s son, Sean, was obviously no cobbler and kept putting things in wrong places. Frustrated, he accosted Sean, who became wide-eyed and ran out of the shop never to be seen again.

When asked about the native American dolls, the cobbler became very agitated and accusatory: “I don’t go up there. Ventured once, but there’s strange thing, very strange. Humans are always meddling; don’t realize things are old: sometimes much older than they appear. They need to have more respect, and not just go messin’ around with stuff. Things should be left alone, except to put them right!”

When asked about the voodoo lady, he replied, “Things have always been strange here, but got a lot worse once she showed up,” referring to the black voodoo woman. He first saw her when she lit Malone’s place on fire. He stopped the fire: “I wasn’t puttin’ up with her burning down my shop. I’m not sure if she knows it was me. I think she knows I’m here, because she doesn’t come in here. But I won’t do anything to run afoul of her!” The day prior to the fire, two men had carried off the bust of Barnum taking it somewhere upstairs.

The group made a business deal with him, agreeing to take him to Fairfield and put him up in his own cobblery. Angus said he would ask nothing in return, which made the cobbler suspicious and slightly snide. Douglas mentioned they would help for free, but there would be payment required for helping to find a better than average location and providing him with connections to wealthy clientele. This put the cobbler at ease.

Angus asked the cobbler his name, giving him his own as a show of faith. The cobbler laughed calling him “bold” and stated: “You can call me Loughman”.

The group made their way upstairs, and eventually to the mummy. The casket stood upright in the corner of the room surrounded by a tall hippopotamus looking statue with a plaque reading “Ammit the Destroyer”, and a container depicting a cat in bandages. In front of the cat lay several small clay jars with occult symbols for the heart, tongue, eyes, liver, stomach.

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A sign at the foot of the mummy read: “Egyptian mummy Pa-Ib and his Amulet of Divination – 2500 B.C.” The mummy’s face was unwrapped and horrifying, and he wore a silver necklace with moonstone beads and a central silver disk with a skull surrounded by strange symbols: clearly not Egyptian since silver was rare and moonstone unavailable in Egypt, and the skull and symbols were clearly Aztec.

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As Elmer and Scott headed back to the get the turquoise hippopotamus necklace, the others investigated 3 glass cabinets containing dolls from various cultures, including Native American, South American, Russian, Chinese, and Indonesian. One in particular was quite odd – a smooth featureless doll carved from African Blackwood (sub-Saharan or ‘Senegal’ Africa) wearing a long coat of black cloth and a sash woven from black and white hairs tied around the waist. A strange symbol of two overlapping hearts was carved on the chest: occult symbols of “Soul Binding”. They decided to take the doll and deal with it later.

As they removed it from the case, Scott explained more regarding the strange doll: “the act of combining personal effects to the same item can be utilized by powerful wizards to maintain a connection to the soul of the other throughout death. It was often used as a means of tormenting a soul for eternity.”

Annie convinced Douglas to remove the sash from the doll. As he tried, his hands suddenly burned as if on fire, and the others could hear and smell the burning flesh. Angus came over to help, and witnessed both his and Douglas’ hand bubbling, bursting, and sizzling from the fiery heat. As Douglas fought off the pain and struggled to remove the sash, the voodoo woman appeared laughing: “You can’t do anything.”

Scott seemed unphased by her sudden appearance, simply asking her: “why do you have such a problem with Barnum? What did he do?”

“Horrible man, wouldn’t let me have any rest. But I got my revenge: burn them, burn them all. And now I’ll make you suffer too!” She grabbed Scott’s sleeve and started burning out a large patch to take with her.

Douglas knew he couldn’t rip the sash off and threw it back into the case. Angus went to pull his gun, and then had a sudden insight and instead pulled out the cold-iron blade. He slashed the sash from the doll, which fell to the ground as the voodoo woman turned with a look of shock in her eyes: “What?! How can that be! It’s impossible.” As she started to fade, she spat curses out: “I’ll get you, I’ll get you all! You’ll pay for this!”

The mariner from Malone’s cafe appeared before them all, mouthed the words “Thank you”, and disintegrated.

At the realization of this minor victory, the investigators felt a bit of relief, regaining a small amount of resolve.

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It's too big to fit. I can't take it like that.

Having defeated the voodoo woman, for a time, the investigators returned the ‘voodoo doll’ to the case and retrieved the turquoise Hippo necklace from the other room. Douglas put it on and tried several occult strategies, but nothing unusual happened. Annie carefully cut the Aztec necklace off of the mummy’s chest, where it had been glued. While Scott placed the Hippo necklace onto the mummy, Douglas put on the Aztec necklace and tried to activate it’s divination powers. Nothing unusual happened.

They decided to head to the Sixth Grand Saloon to find the Navajo Witch. Stopping briefly to look about in the Fifth Grand Saloon, they once again heard sounds of someone running around upstairs, and that of a young child sobbing in the far corner of the room. Scott and Elmer went to investigate the sobbing. Annie and Angus dug through P. T. Barnum the Great American Showman looking for whatever had happened to Joice Heth’s remains. Douglas wandered over to investigate The Ape Woman of Borneo.

The Ape Woman looked to be a real specimen. Although it was odd that she held a large egg in her hand and the workmanship of the face appeared to be sub-par, there was nothing else unusual about her.

Annie was having trouble with the wordiness of the text, but Angus was able to find a couple sections that spoke of Joice Heth’s death:

  • Upon her death, Barnum agreed to an autopsy to confirm the woman’s age. (Those who wanted to witness the autopsy could do so at a modest fee of 50 cents per admission.) Unfortunately, the doctors who performed the autopsy determined that, while certainly decrepit and slightly disabled, she appeared to be no older than 80 years old – their estimate was 79. Barnum insisted that there must be some error, but also used this opportunity to announce a public burial would take place. Strangely, the burial never happened, and there is no record of what actually became of Heth’s remains.
  • Later in life, Barnum ‘admitted’ that the woman he had submitted for the autopsy was not Heth, but the black servant woman of an associate that had also died recently. He claimed to have made the switch to honor Joice’s wishes for her body to not be defiled. When asked about her remains, he would never give a direct answer.

Scott and Elmer found a young girl of about 6 sitting between two alligators. Her long black hair was pulled to one side and braided into a long pony-tail. She wore a long tweed dress with a simple reed belt, and a blue beaded bracelet on her right wrist. She was crying because she couldn’t find her mommy, and said she had been here for ever: for years. The girl became skiddish, and they called for the others. Annie knelt down to talk to her and calmed her down, agreeing to help her find her mom. The girl said she could take them to “where she should be”, although the girl couldn’t quite explain what she meant by that. “She’s beautiful, with long straight black hair, brown eyes, and the most beautiful dresses. Her skin is tan, like mine,” the girl stated, although she herself was quite pale. Annie took the girls hand to walk with her, and learned that the girl was actually a ghost. After the initial shock, and some blunt banter between Annie and the girl about who was actually dead, they headed off to find the girl’s mom.

Annie led her to the three glass cases of dolls: “no, none of these look like her,” the girl said. The girl led them back to the Second Grand Saloon, with the case of jewelry and masks on the wall: “This is where she should be. She should be here, and I looked, but couldn’t find her. And now, she’s gone! She’s not here anymore!”

Annie convinced the girl to stay with them so she wouldn’t be alone, and the investigators continued back to the Sixth Grand Saloon.

This room was very difficult to navigate, with numerous tables and glass cases full of various collections: ivory carvings; whistles made from pig tails, reeds, and bones; scraps of cloth from uniforms of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, American Indian war, Russian Qing Dynasty war, etc.

They passed by two large pieces of furniture: a dresser ornately carved with large roses and decorative swirls with the label "Bedroom dresser of Nancy (Fish) Barnum – from Waldemere home (Woods by the Sea); and a professional roll-top desk with the label “Office desk of P. T. Barnum – from the Marina Mansion”. A photo in a frame labelled “P. T. Barnum and his second wife Nancy” sat spanning both pieces of furniture.

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Annie investigated the dresser while Scott investigated the desk. A piece of crumpled paper was visible from under the right back corner. Annie removed the bottom drawer to retrieve the paper. She discovered a crumpled letter sitting atop a folded newspaper page that had somehow slipped behind and beneath the dresser drawer. The Letter from Barnum to Nancy was a warning with a strange demand to “find an artist and commission a portrait forthwith.” The newspaper page contained an article describing the Barnum Menagerie Fire, with a disturbing portion highlighted: “… the watchman was in the horse room. His lantern exploded, igniting the hay and straw.”

The desk’s roll-top and side drawers were empty, and the middle center drawer was locked. Angus picked the lock somewhat less than deftly. Inside, they discovered a clipped stack of expensive stationary paper. There was no apparent writing on the top page.

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I'm imagining the head right here
I squeeze hard and pop the head off

Scott continued searching the roll-top desk, and found a small silver key – frail, as if to a small box. Annie investigated the stack of “blank” stationary, and made an etching of the last letter that had been written: from Barnum to Sumpter, dated Apr 12, 1890. It was a request for 5 columns and busts; oddly, the tallest column and bust of Barnum were to include a hidden and seal-able compartment.

Letter to Sumpter

The group dispersed searching for the bust of Barnum, while Elmer searched for the Navajo Witch. He found Nukpana Shima (tr., Evil Mother) lying in a glass display case in the South corner of the room. Two more Navajo dolls ‘appeared’ behind him; he scooped them up before turning to investigate the body. Her skin was leathery, and the eyes still appeared to be in the sockets, although covered by a white film. She wore an ancient animal skin top and leather skirt, a belt of silver circlets with a wave design surrounding a Thunderbird: obviously not Navajo, as they would never inscribe the sacred image of the Thunderbird on jewelry. She also wore a belt of rope with 4 diminutive and shriveled mummified humanoid figures. Also in the case was a large long box with cloth and room for several dolls, although it only contained one:

mummydoll012fullfront.jpg

The others came over (except Scott, who was continuing the search), and Douglas started discussing that, based on the jewelry, the Navajo witch was obviously Hopi, (mortal enemies of the Navajo for a time). All 5 dolls, however, were obviously Navajo. The dolls Elmer held started squirming, so he dropped them. Upon hitting the ground they screamed, which woke the witch.

She appeared behind them in a cloud of black smoke that solidified. She shrieked and hissed: “leave them alone, they are mine forever!” The 4 mummified figures fell from her belt and grew to become zombified Navajo girls. Each remained attached to the witch’s waist by bloody sinews that tore themselves painfully out of the girls backs and shoulders. The girls screamed and writhed in pain as they lashed out with one clawed hand and horrible fangs – the other hand clutching a ragged doll tightly to their chests.

navajo_witch2.jpg

Scott arrived just in time to witness the appearance of the witch and the suffering of the zombie girls. Then, he saw the Navajo dolls running off. The entirety of the scene was too much for him – he had seen strange, ghostly things before: but nothing like this! Suddenly, he felt surrounded by ghastly terrors as the whole room seemed to come alive to threaten his life. He fought to maintain his sanity, struggling against the many hallucinations that attacked him as he tried to help subdue the witch.

Douglas grabbed the skull headed doll, which shot out veins and tendons that attempted to bore themselves into his hand. Successfully ripping the doll free, he handed it to Angus. Angus attempted to cut it apart as it dug veins and tendons deep into his palm. It was only with Douglas’ help that he was able to rip the doll loose and toss it to the ground. “Obviously, this doll is what trapped the poor Navajo girls,” they both realized.

Annie ran to scoop up all the Navajo girl dolls, while Elmer began a calm debate with the witch regarding “her claim to these girls” and the fact that “all Navajo are dead, so she should move on to the afterlife”. This distracted her enough for the zombie girls to slow their attacks, and for Annie to run off to the other room with 3 of the Navajo girl dolls – Scott had grabbed the other, placed it in the long box, and shut the lid, trapping the poor doll that scratched at the lid and cried to be set free.

After several failed attempts to cut the belt from the mummified remains, cut the zombie girls loose from the witch, and shooting her (all of which were ineffective, and some having horrific visible consequences to the poor zombie girls), Elmer ran to long box on the table, grabbed the doll from within, and ripped the small doll out her hands. This caught the witch’s attention, as the Navajo doll and associated zombie girl decayed into nothingness.

The witch charged Elmer, and Angus ran to defend him, hoping to grab the witch and throw her to the ground. But as he touched her, his mind was overwhelmed by horrific images of children being brutally tormented and tortured as the witch stood among them laughing. He was frozen with shock and fright!

Having heard the witch’s scream from the other room and with a hint from the dolls she was questioning (“I wasn’t going to keep it. I just picked it up. And then she got me.”) Annie put the pieces together and tore the remaining dolls from the other Navajo girl dolls’ hands.

The witch dissipated with more horrific screams as Angus fell to the ground shivering and paranoid. As he looked around, he swore he could see figures moving in the shadows: small figures, lurking and watching him with evil intent.

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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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I try to patch him up, and slip a few bits into my mouth

Annie ran back to the girl to question her more regarding alligators, crocodiles, and “the man”.

Elmer took a running start to deftly leap across the crocodile-guarded stream. Unfortunately, his aged body did not fully comply and he landed waist deep near the edge. While Angus attempted to distract the croc by throwing rocks (obviously not his best talent), Elmer climbed the bank on the other side and through some massive stroke of luck suffered only the most minor of injuries from the croc’s attacks.

Douglas ran downstream to where Scott had crossed, and sped across and over the Savannah to the boy. He grabbed the boy’s hands, who immediately became “live” and confused. Suddenly realizing where he was, the boy screamed, but then quickly composed himself. “Throw the dice. Take your turn!” Douglas shouted, and the boy did just that: threw the dice.

Elmer and Angus approached as the lions came to life: the male leaping to attack the boy while the female stood over her cubs, ready to assist her mate.

Elmer used the opportunity to try to bandage Scott, but quickly became distracted by how incredibly delicious he was.

Angus distracted the lioness with a pointy stick that somehow, miraculously, kept her at bay. Douglas valiantly stood his ground against the charging lion, stopping it’s pursuit. In response, the lion bit a large chunk of flesh and bone from Douglas’ side, killing him instantly.

The boy ran off screaming, but finally shouted “Jamesonji” when reminded by his brother. The game’s effects were swallowed by a whirling windstorm, everything went black, and the investigators found themselves sitting in a small room with several tanks full of taxidermy snakes and other reptiles.

They escorted the boys out of the museum, and stood at the door discussing whether they should leave themselves, or continue. Scott warned them that the voodoo woman was only temporarily weakened and that the supernatural powers within the building might become restored if they leave now. Douglas pointed out that they knew the location of Barnum’s bust, and since they were so close to completing their task, they should finish now.

Agreed, they headed up to where they had seen the head of Barnum atop the large mound of vines in the Menagerie. Unfortunately, it was actually a large stone memorial to Barnum – a replica of the monument that resides at Seaside Park.

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They headed to the door that led to “the Egress” and the stairwell to the attic. Upon reaching the attic, they found it to be a huge open space with 15’ ceilings, and a circle of tall columns that held an even higher roof. The attic smelled musty and “old”, and was littered with tables, shelves, crates, piles of curtains, and many other objects.

Angus and Elmer headed toward the large group of incomplete mannequins that stood somewhat near the center. Almost all the mannequins were missing limbs, and some were simply torsos, or legs lying on the ground. Some wore scraps of clothing – one wore a Russian soldier coat, the insignia shoulder pads having been ungracefully ripped off.

Scott and Douglas investigated two large shipping crates. One, from Egypt, held a large collection of mummified remains wrapped in ancient linens. The other held wooden artifacts of tall slim figures, and animals: some painted, and all showing extreme aging and wear.

Elmer headed over to another table while Angus started taking watch. Beside the table was a small open shipping crate full of jewelry, including several necklaces and bracelets. On the table were several necklaces that all contained shells and beads. Beside these was a photograph of the Joice Heth painting (from the Second Grand Saloon) in which she wore the necklace of “Binding and Control”. The photo sat atop two other papers. Douglas came over and read the papers while Elmer continued searching the crate for the necklace.

Letter from Middleton to Barnum
Bill of Sale – Necklace

The investigators quickly pieced together part of the puzzle:

  • Joice Heth died in 1836
  • Barnum’s troubles with fires began the day he sold the necklace to Mr. Middleton in 1857
  • Middleton almost immediately re-sold the necklace after falling prey to “an abrupt development of unforeseeable hardships” – possibly fires
  • The man he sold the necklace to was burned to death in 1857 in an accidental fire shortly after the purchase, and the necklace was supposedly destroyed in that fire
  • In 1888 Barnum attempted to re-purchase the necklace from Middleton, and learned that it was gone

Angus noticed a small animal creep quickly from shadows near the stairwell to shadows underneath a nearby table. He casually wandered over, carefully positioning his lantern to slightly illuminate the shadowed area. He saw the shadowy head of a small animal, and eyes that looked like those of a cat.

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