Sunday, 20 August 2017

Ripped from the Headlines: The Iron Toothed Vampire (Night's Black Agents, Dracula Dossier, Esoterrorists)

Hundreds of Glasgow schoolchildren gather at the Necropolis each night. Two kids have been murdered, and eaten, by a vampire, and they're determined to bring the monster to justice. Their weapons may be feeble - a collection of sticks and knives - but their fervor is very real.

A cry goes up: "There's the vampire!" The schoolchildren scatter, screaming.

Thus a legend is born: the Iron Toothed Vampire of the Gorbals.

It gets its genesis from a comic book, Dark Mysteries. Comics like these were rarer than hen's teeth in Glasgow in the 1950s, and whoever had it must have enjoyed bragging rights. For whatever reason, that particular tale caught hold. It probably started small, with a couple kids chatting. Then more took up the tale, and more. Then the rumor goes round that, not only does it exist, it's killed.

It's one small step from that to patrolling the cemetery looking for the thing.

I can bear personal witness to this. Not that long ago, a tsunami swamped Bermuda. You won't have heard of it, but it's true. No, it didn't come from the Triangle. It came from Thailand.

In 2004 a terrible disaster took the lives of a quarter million people, most of them in Thailand. A year later, there was a documentary about the event. Bermudians watched it. Two of them sat outside, near Salt Rock Grill in Somerset, and idly commented that the gleam of water on the horizon looked just a little like what they thought a tsunami-created water wall might look like.

A few hours later our neighbors from Dockyard were deposited on our doorstep by the local police, convinced beyond reason that water would swamp everything at low level. Since we are on a hill, the police figured people would be safe.

Oddly enough, there was no ocean wave of death.

Nobody thought to ask how long it took a tsunami wave to hit, once it's sighted from shore. The police never called the weather service, or any other agency tasked with monitoring this kind of thing. They just scooped people up and dropped them somewhere that might be safe.

I suppose I should be grateful most of them aren't armed.

When the Esoterrorists talks about how the Membrane can be shattered by people spreading cryptorumors to create what amounts to a supernatural effect, the Iron Toothed Vampire is what it's talking about.

To add a little bit of gamification, with all the above in mind:

In 1954 Edom has a problem. It's self-inflicted: the Glasgow site at which it has been holding a biological test subject proves less secure than hoped, and the test subject escapes.

It's spotted by local children when it tries to hide in the Southern Necropolis, and then something interesting happens.

Edom still isn't sure of the proximate cause, but for whatever reason children by the dozens - the hundreds - join the hunt. At the same time the psychic listening posts set up to monitor activity - and by extension, Dracula - go off like klaxons. This causes an inordinate amount of public concern, outcry, and attention-grabbing media.

By the time the dust settles, the entity is contained, and the children given sound spankings and sent to bed, the Dukes are in conference. After all, it was just one minor outbreak, the sort of thing that has happened often enough before without this kind of reaction. What caused the psychic trauma? Will it happen again? Can it be created - can Dracula fake out the listening post system with false reports?

To begin with, the Glasgow operation is shut down. Clearly security is too lax; somewhere else shall be found for these experiments.

However the next few decades see an unprecedented interest in child psychology, as investigators from Edom monitor the children who participated in the Iron Toothed Vampire hunt. The initial theory is that one or more of them is, or was, a psychic sensitive, and the excitement caused by the vampire story caused a sudden burst of psychic energy, which in turn affected and influenced all the others.

In spite of this attractive theory the investigators are never able to narrow down the patient zero of this outbreak. Instead they have what come to be called the Gorbals Ten: children, now grandparents, who might or might not have had sufficient ability to create the effect. In some cases, whatever they may have had is thought to have dissipated with puberty. In others, the jury is still out. In any case those ten, and their offspring, are still monitored closely, just to be sure.

So when Ronald Morrison dies by his own hand in a very suggestive manner - he apparently stakes himself to death, using the remains of a wooden chair - Edom is quick to respond. The agents go up to Glasgow in sunny January - average rainfall 148.2 inches - to see what's what.

Did Morrison kill himself? If so, did he choose that particular method for a reason? What of the remaining Nine - are they at risk?

Are children gathering at the Southern Necropolis again, and if so, why?


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