The Call of Cthulhu

The Day After The Explosion
Lanny's Disappearance

(Thursday)

Fred and Ron wake up on the floor of King & Lowry’s Saloon. There are other men laying on the floor, many of whom are bandaged and moaning. The front windows are boarded up. The saloon appears to have been transformed into a temporary infirmary. Jacob Lowry approaches and hands each of you a hot cup of black tea. Soot-covered men discuss last night’s events – each man trying to top the previous account. You get your hands on a copy of this morning’s Butte Miner newspaper:

Men and Women Mowed Down Like Grass. Buildings Wrecked. Three Different Explosions. Seventy-Five Persons Killed and a Hundred Injured. Fire Department Wiped Out. Plate Glass Broken All Over the City.
Butte, MT, Jan. 17 – A fire broke out last night in the Montana Central yards and soon several cars loaded with powder caught fire. Just as the firemen were closing in around the blazing cars an explosion occurred, killing a number of firemen and spectators and maiming many others. The firemen who had escaped immediately rallied and were beginning another attack when a second explosion, more violent than the first, took place. The people in the vicinity were mown down as with a great scythe and the streets for half a block around looked like a great battlefield. The few remaining firemen were gathering themselves together and attempting to escape to a place of safety when the third and last explosion occurred. There were several cars of powder and all of them exploded. The whole heavens were lighted up and the city shook as if an earthquake was in progress.
Immediately after the first explosion the entire hospital corps and police force were summoned, and many of the attaches of these departments are among those killed and injured in the subsequent explosions. Every house for blocks around has been turned into an impromptu hospital. Every member of the fire department has been either killed or wounded. The entire department was wiped out, including the chief and all the horses. Three policemen were among the killed. Plate glass was broken all over the city and the damage to property was enormous. The relatives of the killed are frantic and the city is in consternation.
The fire started in the Royal Milling company’s warehouse and spread to the Kenyon Cornell warehouse, in which was stored carloads of giant powder. The powder in the warehouse was in violation of the law. It was the greatest explosion in the history of the west.
So far between 50 and 60 mangled bodies have been recovered and more are being picked up on all sides. It is estimated that about 100 additional persons were injured, several of whom died after being taken to the hospital.
Wagons are still taking dead bodies from the scene of the explosion to various undertaking establishments and the wounded to their homes and hospitals. The latter are all full. The list of dead will probably reach 75 and the damage to property will be more than $1,000,000. In all, three carloads of powder exploded. one of which was stored in the Butte Hardware company’s warehouse which adjoined the Kenyon Cornell warehouse. Large pieces of iron were thrown miles. Several bodies were hurled a long distance and picked up in unrecognizable mass of flesh.
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The Beginning
Fire at the Central Railyard

(Wednesday)

It is late evening in mid-January. Outside temperature is deadly cold and dropping. Lanny, the resident drunk parked at the end of the bar, says it’s supposed to reach -50°F tonight but he’s known for exaggeration. The King & Lowry’s Saloon is mostly empty, only two other patrons remain quietly sipping their drinks, listening to the bartender, Jonathan King, discuss sleeping arrangements with the drunkard over the shriek of the growing blizzard outside.

“Yer welcome to the cellar cot again but you gotta promise to not make sick and work some chores around here tomorrow morning.”

Lanny grumbles a weak acceptance since other reasonable options seem unlikely tonight. Trying to make good on his agreement he staggers from his stool and tends to the dying stove near the bar.

King pours a round of whiskeys on the house. “Tonight ain’t a good night to be walking far in this weather. Once you sip that down… you fellas best be on your way.” Fred Weimer and Ron Marshall thank him and agree.

Lanny stumbles back up to the bar for his whiskey but misses his chair and falls to the floor inaudibly as the front windows are lit pure white, illuminating the entire bar like summer afternoon. Instantaneously the floor shakes violently and a deafening explosion leaves everyone’s ears ringing. The white light beyond the front windows dims as they shatter inward, bottles and glasses fall from the shelves, and the large mirror over the bar splits and shatters. Freezing air and snow fill the saloon.

King, Fred, and Ron run out the front door to see flames licking the sky from the direction of a railyard a few blocks away. Lanny stumbles up behind. Sleepy residents appear in neighboring broken windows and doors, standing dumbfounded in nightgowns. A few clothed men are running down the street shouting toward the pillar of fire. Over the wail of the blizzard you can faintly hear people screaming.

King tells Fred, Lanny, and Ron, to run ahead and see if you can help while he gets his keys and locks up.

The three patrons stumble up the street against the blizzard. Butte Hardware Company’s warehouse is a raging inferno. Bright flames illuminate the icy streets revealing they are littered with charred wood, screaming firemen, and human body parts.

An explosion from the warehouse sends everyone in the area to the ground. Flaming debris flies above your heads. A smoking leather boot lands in the snow with a hiss. Smoke and swirling fog begin to obscure the street. Fred and Ron glimpse Lanny sobbing, clinging to the corpse of a decapitated horse. His sobs turn into screams as his body is lifted into the air and disappears into darkness. The horse’s corpse gyrates and its legs twitch as though trying to run.

Frantic men, among them King, drag Fred and Ron away from the inferno. Another explosion cuts through the blizzard as the two remaining patrons babble incoherently about Lanny.

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