Rick Rhodes


img_1259It had been been several months since Detective Rick Rhodes returned to America to recover from grievous injuries inflicted by the cult of Cthulhu; wounds that were both physical and psychological. He had succeeded in his mission to find the tattered old copy of the Necronomicon that the Professor needed. But would it make any difference, as the death cult began to threaten the whole world?

I flipped through channel after channel on the Professor’s battered old television set. It was the same thing on every station: a mob of cultists marching in the streets with their black flags, burning, smashing, intimidating everyone around them. When on rare occasion the police or security forces chose to haltingly intervene, their shows of force would invariably backfire; overwhelmed by the cult’s sheer numbers, the state’s monopoly of violence was shown to be a sham. The cult was in charge, everywhere.

The Professor finally arrived home. I heard his key turn in the lock, meeting no resistance. A look of trepidation was on his face as he entered and realized he wasn’t alone. He saw me and breathed a sigh of relief. (more…)

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Rick Rhodes’ continues his adventure by landing in Egypt, an ancient land that has become a central staging ground for the cult.

Cairo is a hellhole. Wherever the cult has taken over civil society, squalor, poverty and filth are the norm. And it’s only going to get worse in this city. The cult has come out from the shadows and tries to act like a legitimate political party. They’ve won over large segments of the public with a mandate focused on jobs and the economy; in reality, they’re just setting up this country for more horrific persecution, lawlessness and an eventual slide into the maw of the Hight Priest of the Old Ones.

As usual, I hadn’t come to this place looking for good times. From the information I’d picked up in Nigeria at the cult safehouse in Maiguduri, I knew there was a good chance I could get my hands on an ancient copy of the Necronomicon, that tome of terror compiled by Abdul Alhazred — originally bound in a cover of human skin. If I could get the book back to the Professor and his assistant, maybe they’d be able to translate something to help us beat this menace.

Word was that the book had resided at the Egyptian Scientific Institute in Cairo. When the mad cultists set fire to the building in a fit of fake revolutionary fervor, the head librarian had tried to ensure the escape of the Neconomicon in his own briefcase. Before he could pass off the book to his allies in the mob, he was rounded up for questioning by the authorities. By some miracle, the local police chief actually knew what he had in his hands when his men searched the man. Two miracles, actually — incredibly, the cult’s almost-complete infiltration of the authorities did not include Police Chief Fadil Hamza. I had to go find him.

I couldn’t be sure why the cell in Maiguduri would have this information. Who knew how they were involved. But then, the cultists are still human. There must be some thugs in the organization who just can’t keep their big mouths shut. Anyway, it worked out for me.

Or so I thought. Almost as soon as I got to Cairo, my luck ran out. I don’t know how the cultists identified me, but I got picked out of the crowd just as I was leaving the airport.

I felt a syringe stab into my neck.

I thought it was over. But I actually woke up. Almost wish I hadn’t.

The next week or so is a blur. In between collapsing in my own dark cell in a dark, moldy basement dungeon, they gave me the full treatment. Electrical shocks. Waterboarding. Flogging with a rubber hose. Beating the bottoms of my feet with sticks.

They didn’t even bother asking me questions. Maybe they were trying to soften me up first. Maybe they just got off on torture. Either way, I found out the hard way just how evil the cult could get.

I wasn’t going to last much longer. I blacked out for the hundredth time after they started shooting my arm with a nail gun.

Next thing I knew, I woke up in a hospital in a Cairo suburb. I was bandaged up with an IV coming out my arm, looking like hell. The man at the side of my bed was none other than Fadil Hamza.

Turned out I’d made it to his police station after all. The torture chamber was in the lower level, run by a couple of corrupt cops. When he found out what was happening, he dispatched the traitors and rescued me from the dungeon.

At least, that’s what he told me. “Why should I trust you?” I asked, astounded at the frail sound of my own voice. My throat had burnt out from all the yelling during my internment.

“I know why you are in Cairo,” he said. “I got it out of them. That basement came in very handy.”

“What did they tell you?” I asked.

“They said you were looking for the book.”

I didn’t say anything. I still wasn’t sure if I could trust him.

“The Professor is an old friend,” Hamza whispered. Apparently, even the Chief of Police had something to fear. “I know you seek the Necronomicon. I can place it in your hands when you are recovered. It will be a gift to me to be rid of it.”

I nodded and soon lapsed into unconsciousness. Five days later, Hamza once more appeared at my side, looking worse for wear. It seemed he hadn’t slept. His clothes looked rumpled, like he’d been wearing them for at least a few days. He had a bandage on his arm and a sling on his left arm. He poked my shoulder to rouse me from the hospital bed.

“The cult will stop at nothing to get their hands on the Necronomicon,” Hamza said. “You must leave now.” I stood and dressed with some difficulty, still feeling the effects of my brutal incarceration. The Police Chief was impatient, urging me on. Finally, we slipped out of the hospital and into the parking lot without checking out. “Take my car keys,” he said, also handing over all of the cash in his wallet.

Along with that, he gave me a book. The book. My heart jumped as I took it into my possession.

“I will leave separately,” he whispered. “Go now!”

I drove aimlessly away from the central part of Cairo, hoping I’d manage to stumble onto a perimeter highway. My luck had returned — I can’t read Arabic, but I saw a sign that would lead me to the coast, where I could get a ferry out of this godforsaken place. A bribe with all of the cash Hamza had given me was sufficient to get me out onto the Mediterranean — the Necronomicon tucked into my own folded jacket. I just have to hang on a little while longer until I get to the safehouse in Greece.

In the meantime, everything hurts.