The Curse Of Nineveh

A Grizzley Saturday (11th July 1925)

Tracing Expedition Survivors

Both Iain and Ripley woke on the Saturday morning to half remembered dreams of dread, disturbed and far from rested but the others woke feeling rested. By the eleven when they met at the club Iain and Ripley had forgotten the dreams although both were still tired from the disturbed night.

After brunch Walter went to the Yard to dig into the several cases that their unofficial investigation touched upon. The files on Alice Ashwood’s death and on the fire at Alfred Turner Antiquities were on his desk. The details of both instances tied up with the details in Neve Selcibuc’s journal. Next he checked into the Mercedes that had been seen outside Lord Brightman’s house however with the limited information available he was unable to find any leads. Lastly Walter looked into the case file of Lord Brightman’s death and found that the case was being dealt with by DI Marcus Brinslow (a detective who Walter already knows).

Lord Brightman was murdered in his bedroom at home (Regent’s Park Road, NW1). His manservant, Samuel Collins, discovered the body at 6 am on 4th July 1925. According to the police surgeon, Lord Brightman had been stabbed 37 times in the torso, had his throat slit and had his hands and feet severed. The aforementioned hands and feet had been positioned upon the corpse’s chest. The murder weapon is assumed to be a very sharp knife, approximately 8 to 10 inches in length. The assailant had proceeded to use the deceased’s blood to write a message on a piece of parchment paper (found inserted in the deceased’s mouth). The message read: The curse shall find all who have stolen.

The deceased’s bedroom window was open and no other signs of entry could be perceived. It is assumed the culprit entered by climbing the drainage pipe adjacent to the bedroom window. No further evidence was found at the scene, although the deceased’s study was entered and items moved. It is believed that one item was taken: a stone statuette of the Assyrian god Nabu (verified by Collins). Collins’ statement says that he heard nothing during the night and had last seen the deceased when he retired for bed at 10 pm.

While Walter was at the Yard Iain and Hilary went to visit Albright. Having the list of stolen items they found in Glossop’s office they decided that Iain would introduce himself to Albright as having a rich buyer (Hilary)looking for Assyrian antiquities in the hopes that by looking specifically for items on that list they could find a link. Albright was suitably impressed by Hilary (and his Silver Ghost parked just up the road with its chauffeur) and seemed eager to please. Albright admitted to not having anything authentically Assyrian in stock although he thought he could acquire some cuneiform tablets within a week (similar to reproductions that he had in stock). Mention of Dagon and Nabu, especailly a large bust of Nabu which they had heard of as being on the market, seemed to nudge Albright’s memory and he mentioned a golden statuette of Nabu which he had recently seen. While the owner was not initially interested in selling he thought that he may be able to change the sellers mind if the price was right (although he was aware of another buyer who might be interested). Hilary pushed him hard about the other buyer and eventually, even after an outrageously large bribe of £25, Albright stated that he had been trying to track down the buyer who he only knew by the name of Guido. Eventually having left him with an order for the cuneiform tablets, instructions to track down the golden statuette of Nabu and contact details via Iain’s publisher they left the shop, Hilary in particular feeling that they had been given the run around.

Howard was spending the day back in the library again researching what he could about Reginald Campbell Thompson, Willard Puncheon, Terrance MacAvoy, Lord Brightman and Thomas Banksmith.

Later that afternoon, after Ripley had spoken to a Patrick Longton by telephone and arranged an appointment to meet with Campbell Thompson on the afternoon of Monday 13th July, the group reunited and drove to MacAvoy’s house at Hebron road. Noting that all the curtains were firmly closed even this late on a Saturday afternoon and being unable to get an answer at the front door Walter used the side alley to check the back of the house. Again all the curtains were closed and fearing the worst he forced an entry by the back door. The house was in darkness and drawing his revolver he stepped into a kitchen filled with a sour and rancid stink. Moving through the ground floor it was obvious that the house had been searched and he opened the front door to allow his colleagues to enter before turning his attention to the front room from which could be heard an ominous buzzing.

The front room was a scene of obscene horror, the long dead corpse of Mr MacAvoy lying in a sticky pool of its own juices, buzzing with flies and crawling with maggots. Mr MacAvoy was far beyond help and reeling with unwanted memories of the trenches during the war Walter hurriedly left the room. Once recovered Walter led the search of the house, noting relics and photographs of many digs, before calling for the police. In the poor man’s bedroom they discovered a letter from Peter Simpkin (also of the now more than rumoured 1919 dig in Nineveh), who stated that he was being watched and was in fear of his life.

DI Brock soon arrived with two uniformed officers and chatted to Walter about why he was there. Walter explained that he had been looking into the Brightman and Glossop murders which were being investigated by DI Brinslow and DI Partridge.

Leaving Hebron Road Walter called Scotland Yard and made contact with DI Brinslow explaining the situation briefly with MacAvoy (before he heard through any other channels). DI Brinslow suggested a meeting at the Yard on Monday morning (13th July) with DI Partridge to fully understand the situation.

The last obvious step seemed to be to go and visit Peter Simpkin at his house in Hackney. Upon reaching the house they found this too was ominously quiet with all the curtains drawn, although in the early evening there were still several hours until sunset. The sight of one of the downstairs curtains twitching did little to settle the group’s nerves. Unable to get a response to knocking at the door but hearing quiet whimpering and whispering from inside Walter picked the lock and quietly opened the front door. Inside, part way down the hall, was crouched a painfully thin figure with a matted beard and hair, rocking gently too and fro. Taking out his warrant card and speaking as calmly and reassuringly as he could Walter stepped inside the house at which this pitiful creature screamed and flew at the detective with spittle on his lips, a wild look in his eyes and his fists flying…

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