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Realistic or Modern The Mulhouser Files: Echoes of Blood

joshuadim

the writer
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Thomas Mulhouser, a 28 year-old self-declared "Paranormal Investigator" has recently quit his job to pursue this endeavour but has found that the ambitions (or delusions) of being in such a field doesn't necessarily pay well. Regardless, there are certain skills that he has carried over from his previous work and current life experiences that will certainly help with what is to come. And he will need everything he possibly can to survive the coming days, as he will find himself wholly out of his depth and truly in the worst of possible situations. Many choices to come will impact both what he uncovers and how he gets through the horrors of Sherbrooke. His life is in your hands.



Life Experience (Choose One)
1: Hunting - Mulhouser's father always took him to the outdoors during hunting season, the memories of which still remain despite not having fired a rifle in over 10 years. Bonus to using firearms and wilderness trekking.

2: Track and Field - Mulhouser's high school years saw him doing sprints and marathons for the school team, bringing them to the state championship twice. Bonus to endurance and agility.

3: Rough Streets - Mulhouser grew up in a poor neighborhood in Chicago, and thus got into all sorts of fights and squabbles with other kids and youth. This left him with plenty of experience in dealing with people up close and personal. Major bonus to melee fighting.



Former Job (Choose One)
A: Accountant - Mulhouser worked in a cubicle, crunching numbers, searching for discrepencies and staring at spreadsheets for a major corporation, and found himself wanting. The soul-crushing nature of this job is exactly why he quit and went to be what he is now, but there are a few good skills he still has kept from it that are crucial for investigative work. Major bonus to perception.

B: Political Aide - Mulhouser once worked for a prominent Chicago politician, managing their schedule and appointments as well as dealing with the underbelly of politics. But politics, as he came to soon realize, was too dirty and unforgiving and thus left. Bonus to persuasion and deception.

C: Journalist - Mulhouser worked for the Chicago Tribune, making a bit of a name for himself by exposing a shipping company skirting safety regulations that got three of its workers killed. But as he came to realize when his next op-ed was nearly finished, an exposition on the corruption of Chicago's mayoral staff, getting the truth out is less important than making money in media. Disgusted by this obvious collaboration between politics and media, Mulhouser left. Major bonus to investigation.
 
Northern Wisconsin, 9 October 2005, 3 Days Earlier
A young woman rushes through the forest, nearly tripping on her on feet our of sheer panic of what she had witnessed just earlier. It was meant to be a simple camping trip, but instead she had stumbled with her boyfriend into a nightmare. Dirt and scratches covered her face and arms as she panted with panicked breathes, running away from the campsite and back towards the car parking. Something had attacked Lucas in the cover of night after he took a look outside their tent, blood and screams filled the air and kicked over their lantern which now left her in the foreboding darkness. Thin slivers of moonlight offered only glimpses of her surroundings as she ran, not daring to look back.

But she could see a clearing in the distance as she continued to run, and saw the familiar outline of her car appearing as a saviour in the dark. Her foot then hit a branch, leaving her to tumble to the dirt and leaves below. Hitting a few felled branches and small rocks on the way down, she could only yelp out in pain as she scrambled on her hands and knees to the car. As she tried to unlock the door, a distant roar filled the air. The hunt was still on, and she whimpered as nervous hands shook - preventing her from getting the key into the hole properly. "Come on, come on, come on..." she begged, trying to get her own limbs to cooperate.

She the managed to clamber inside after struggling to unlock the car, and shakily moved to start the ignition. She yelled out in a panic when the first twist failed, but felt overwhelming relief when the engine roared to life on the second. The headlights blinked on, but revealed something truly terrible. She couldn't make it out through the dense woods, but screamed on what she could see: piercing red eyes.


Chicago, 12 October 2005, Now
Mulhouser's Background: (1C) Hunter, Journalist
-Bonus to Firearms.
-Bonus to Wilderness Trekking.
-Major bonus to investigation.
Starting: Equipment: Camera, Cell Phone
A chill in the air marked the continued seasonal change in Chicago; a cold spell was carried across the air in gusts and breezes that settled upon the streets and people that walked them. As such, people began to dress in more layers to accommodate the arrival of Autumn as they went about their daily lives within the comforts of normality. But Thomas Mulhouser was anything but normal, having given up a position at the esteemed Chicago Tribune after having a falling out with management. He had been on the verge of a breakthrough with exposing political corruption, but ultimately was shut down by the internal interests of politics within the media apparatus here. The sting of betrayal and anger remains even six months later as he now finds himself within the unusual practice of being a "Paranormal Investigator".

Calling it a "firm" would be too strong of a term for a single-man enterprise, let alone one nestled in a bleak, concrete cube of a building squeezed within an alleyway between more modern structures of the inner city. It would require someone with dedication to the supernatural to hear of his existence, let alone find his location, despite the cheap neon sign hanging outside the building. The windows outside remain lined with the old advertisements of palm readings and supposed seances, as well as a $79.99 deal for a 'salt cleansing' to remove impure energies from an individual. As luck would have had it, the previous tenant was a seance reader of some kind, though the details of the salt ritual remained obfuscated as the information part of the poster had been ripped away long ago.

The office space inside was just as bleak as the exterior, as it was sparsely populated with the bare essentials that was needed to survive. A couch meant for customers also served as a pull-out bed, and was riddled with stitches and patches to extend its life as long as needed. A mini-kitchen at the far end of the room held just a microwave and a cheap coffee pot, providing just what was needed to get bad coffee and TV dinners into his belly. Mulhouser sat at a serviceable desk, surrounded with previous paperwork that he had carried over from the Tribune out of spite along with an old PC that helped keep him sane through the monotony of the day. His last job was two months ago, which was an appointment with an old bat of a lady whose grandkids never called. She had been concerned about her grandson's future of getting into college and wanted some piece of mind, and so he did a tarot card reading for a cool hundred bucks.

As far as he was concerned, he had better use of that money than the little gremlins squabbling over inheritance did. But it was not nearly enough to cover rent for that month, let alone for now. Mulhouser groaned as he remembered the declining number of his bank account grow ever smaller, and needed to do something to keep his mind off the terrible prospect of having to beg for his old job back.

1: Answer an online survey - God knows you need what little extra cash you can use to get by.

2: Check your email - And pray that someone, *anyone* is asking for an appointment.

3: Call up Mark - Your former colleague at the Tribune and still best friend. Ask him if he wants to go out for lunch and pay for your meal.
 
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2: Check your email - And pray that someone, *anyone* is asking for an appointment.
Mulhouser glances towards the computer, eyeing its static screen for a moment before letting out a sigh. He wasn't expecting anything different in his email inbox than the usual variety of spam mail, advertisements, and other random nonsense. But by this point it had become a daily ritual of disappointment as he scrolled over and opened his Yahoo! mail account. His eyes scrolls over the myriad of new mail, glazing past the regular spam and garbage that he quickly marked for deletion. As a result of his dutiful organization, his inbox remained fairly sparse from the few messages sent and received over the past few months. One of which was a conversation between him and Mark discussing his feelings towards the upper management of the Tribune - a whole can of worms he was not eager to revisit - and another being a back and forth negotiation for the rent prices of his studio/office space with the landlord.

Mulhouser rolls his eyes when he realizes that, like usual, there wasn't anything of note to read over in his inbox; but his hunt for work left him oblivious to the one email that had been recently sent which was from his mother.

Subject: How are you?

He looks at the header for a moment, before realizing that he *hadn't* checked in with her for at least three months by this point. Had she been here in person, he knew he would never hear the end of it. It was a simple question, but did he really want to go too much into how badly he was doing at the moment? His fingers hovered above the keyboard as he pondered what exactly to write.

1: White Lie - Write that you're fine, and things are alright. She doesn't need to know your difficulties.

2: Deflect - Ask how *she* is, since she is getting older. Her well-being is more important than yours.

3: Vent - Admit the problems plaguing you and your current enterprise, you could use her advice and support.
 
2: Deflect - Ask how *she* is, since she is getting older. Her well-being is more important than yours.

Given her growing age, Mulhouser decides that the best course of action was to check in like a good son would while also avoiding the difficult conversation regarding his circumstances. There was enough stress in his life, and he decided that he wouldn't put that onto his mother nor have her hound him on whether or not he needed any help. Typing away onto the keyboard quickly, he came through with a proper response.
RE: How are you?
Sorry I haven't called, I've been busy. How are you doing? I'll try to visit you later this month once I've cleared things up.

He gives pause for a moment, realizing just how blunt of a communique this was given his lack of reaching out to her. It almost felt as though he were just crossing off an item on a checklist and getting it done with. But what more could he say? After struggling for a moment, he decided to spruce it up a bit.

How are things back at home?
How's Russell? Old boy must be cranky as ever unless you feed him.
Do you need anything from the city that I can bring?
Did you ever get your cough checked out?

A small cluster of questions to get a good discussion going. With a final keystroke, Mulhouser moved the mouse over and hit "Send" before leaning back in his seat with a small degree of satisfaction. The sudden ring of his phone quickly jolted Mulhouser back to attention as he nearly fumbled the flip-phone out of his hands before managing to get a firm grip upon it. The caller read "Mark", a nice coincidence of timing and he quickly flipped open to accept.

"Mark! How've you been?" Mulhouser asks with an upbeat demeanour.

"Hey Thomas, things are alright here. Listen, have you been talking to a client recently?"

A client? The news came as a surprise to him given how dead his current job was at pulling any prospective interest. "Uh... no? Why?"

"There's a young lady here that walked into the offices here, asking for your name. Real meek type, seemed nervous. Said she couldn't find where you were holed up now. I'm bringing her over now."

Shit! Mulhouser thought to himself as he shot himself straight up out of his seat and looked around at the mess that was his space. He kept the phone pressed to his ear as he dashed over to collect things and started to tidy up. "Oh! Oh, that's great! How soon will you be here?" Mulhouser spoke with a mixture of slight panic and greater excitement as he picked up a few empty cups of instant noodles and threw them into the bin before scurrying over to the mini-kitchen and used paper towels to wipe down the area around the small sink.

"Five minutes or so."

"Alright, great great! See you then!" Mulhouser then said, feeling a sense of relief with the tone hanging up as he then redirected his attention towards the couch and the desk space. There simply was a lot to do and not enough time to do it, and five minutes passed within the blink of an eye as a knock on the door downstairs alerted him to their arrival. After taking a quick glance around to see that everything was at least in *acceptable* condition, Mulhouser practically bounded down the steps and opened the door to be greeted by a familiar face.

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"Yo." said Mark, styling an impressive manbun and beard as was his tradition. Both he and Mulhouser shared a glance towards the young lady that he had brought along, who eyed the latter and his establishment with an unsubtle disregard for both's outward appearances. It made the investigator more self-conscious of his somewhat unkept and ragged appearance as he took a quick glance down at his clothes. "Yeah, that's her." Mark then spoke, "Said it was urgent."

"Please, come on in and have a seat." Mulhouser invited the young woman, stepping aside to make way. With hesitation she did so as she scaled the steps, but before Mulhouser could join her he was stopped by his friend.

"She's quite nervous... don't push her too hard for whatever this is, alright?" Mark whispers, "This ain't an interview with some sleazy asshole in uptown, alright?"

Mulhouser glances back up the steps and sighs. "I know, I know... it's just been a bit since I've seen a single soul even interested in my services."

"Yeah well you owe me for playing into your madness." Mark responds with a chuckle before heading out. "Good luck."



Heading back upstairs, Mulhouser was greeted with his guest having planted herself on the couch as her gaze trailed over his humble space. And now he was left wondering as to how to start the conversation as he stood at the doorway in an awkward fashion.

1: Direct - Ask why she's here. Pleasantries aren't exactly your forte.

2: Offer Tea - You remember you have a few packets of tea still lying around in one of the mini-kitchen's drawers. Try to get her to calm her nerves before you start talking.

3: Small Talk - Get to know a bit about her before you go into it. Establish a rapport.
 

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