Crampton by Thomas Ligotti, Brandon Trenz

Book: Crampton by Thomas Ligotti, Brandon Trenz Read Free Book Online
Authors: Thomas Ligotti, Brandon Trenz
a few hours ago.
    He unfolds it and hands it to Scully. She reads the words, written in that now-familiar script, out loud.
    "She is holding the Eight of Spades."
    Any idea who sent it?
    That's a question I'm afraid I can't answer.
    Can't? Or won't?
    Bit of both, I suppose.
    Mulder produces the magic shop receipt.
    You could say this came through our mail slot too. It was found on the, uh, man who killed Agent Johnson.
    (reading the receipt)
    "If you really want to know." Now, where have I heard that before?
    He hands the receipt back to Mulder.
    222 Main Street is a fix-it shop run by a guy named Fred something. It's closed most of the time, like just about everything in that crummy little town. But you might get lucky. Personally, I think you should forget the whole thing and head back to Cincinnati before it gets too late.
    (a little frustrated)
    Ricky, we're not on a social call here. An FBI agent is dead, killed right in the middle of the J. Edgar friggin Hoover Building, and the Director has taken it a little personally. Once upon a time you might have been able to label this thing "unsolved" and let it go at that, but that's not really an option for us now.
    I'll tell you what: go check out your address. If you really want to stick around Crampton, you're welcome to stay here.
    Mulder and Scully look at each other. Given the general squalor of the yellow house, Ricky's offer is not an appealing one.
    Or, if you want, there's a cheap little motel in town. You go there, have a look around. If you still want to talk to me, we can talk tomorrow. It's not like I'm going anywhere.
    (pulling out a notebook and pen)
    What's your phone number?
    Don't have a phone number. Don't have a phone.
    You don't have a telephone?
    Mulder hands Ricky his cell phone.
    I want you to take this, then. Scully's cell phone number is star-six. Call us if you remember anything you think we ought to know.
    "Crummy little town" does not even begin to describe this desolate burg. Though Mulder and Scully's drive down Crampton's Main Street takes them past a number of buildings, most appear to be abandoned. There seem to be only three active businesses: the "Fix-It and Supply" shop, the Oasis Motel that Ricky mentioned, and a diner apparently called "EAT HERE."
    Mulder and Scully enter the office of the Oasis Motel, their overnight bags over their shoulders. Mulder RINGS the service bell. Also in the office is an older COUPLE. Judging by their colorfully patterned clothes, sunglasses, and cameras, they are tourists.
    (in a British accent)
    Excuse me, could we take your picture?
    I'm sorry?
    My husband and I are on a photographic excursion, and we'd like to take a picture of you and your husband. It would go so well with the others.
    Mulder puts his arm around Scully's shoulders.
    Why, certainly!
    (shrugging Mulder)'s arm off)
    We're not married.
    Too late: the woman's camera FLASHES, and the picture is taken. As the tourist couple leaves, the MANAGER appears from a back room.
    Good afternoon. Have you stayed with us before?
    Scully begins filling out the necessary forms, while Mulder surveys the small office. A cigarette machine, the kind with the pull-knobs. Two faux-leather chairs, cracked by heat and sunlight. A gumball dispenser, with a small sign saying the proceeds benefit the local Knights of Columbus.
    On a small table is a stack of leaflets. Mulder reads one, then takes it over to Scully. "Spectacular Display of Illusion and Ventriloquism," it promises, to be held at three o'clock the next day at the Masonic Hall.
    Mulder, I think I've seen enough magic tricks for one day.
    Look at this, Scully.
    Mulder points to the

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