Adam Scott Glancy’s Delta Green short story “Down in the Delta” is now available to subscribers of The Unspeakable Oath. Print subscribers get the PDF of each issue of the Oath free, so print and PDF subscribers alike can now download The Unspeakable Oath 22, The Unspeakable Oath 23, “Down in the Delta,” and John Scott Tynes’ play “In the Court of the Yellow King” when they order a subscription to issues 22 through 25.
To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from “Down in the Delta,” written by Adam Scott Glancy, © 2014.
I think we’ve got a situation developing. One of my canaries just pulled a Judge Crater.
Here’s the skinny:
The canary’s name is Luther Marks, a history instructor at Loyola University in New Orleans. He’s a Jesuit Father, been around the planet twice and seen some seriously bad shit. And not just the usual genocides and nazi-style anti-insurgency campaigns you get in those perpetually doomed Third-world toilets. He’s seen our particular brand of seriously bad shit too.
I first used Father Marks as a researcher on a night at the opera in New Orleans six years ago, the Krewe of Cassilda situation. Without him we would never have gotten Pomeroy locked up at Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville. Marks kept an eye on Pomeroy afterwards and warned us during the winter of ’99 about his second attempt to manifest the King. Father Marks is not squeamish about the work we do. He kept watch for the hospital staff while Agent Charlie and I performed the trans-ocular lobotomy on Pomeroy.
Father Marks has been the perfect New Orleans canary. He’s a local and is well versed on all the dirt the local families, politicians and notables are carrying around with them. Plus he is an excellent researcher. Fluent in Latin, French, and Spanish, not to mention a half-dozen defunct medieval languages. He has first-rate contacts with the various departments at Loyola, the Archdiocese, and Tulane University. Without those contacts in the Archeology Dept. at Tulane, we wouldn’t have been able to intervene as quickly as we did when that “Jade Skirt” thing started drinking blood back in ’98. No telling how high the body count could have gone if he hadn’t detected and reported the preternatural elements of the case.
So, short version is that he’s sharp, reliable, and doesn’t jump at shadows. He’s never sent us anything he didn’t thoroughly check out first, so when I get a tip from him I know its solid. He’s even sniffed out one or two of our operations in progress, which I dutifully brushed him off of.
Anyway, the last couple of months something has been making Father Mark nervous. He dropped some hints the last couple of times we communicated through the dead drop, but wouldn’t give me any details. He kept insisting that he just wasn’t ready, that he wanted to be sure before he made a fool of himself.
This morning I went to service the dead drop in Audubon Park and what I found alarmed me. The text transcribes as follows:
“I know you’ve told me you cannot answer questions about the Group, [It’s what he calls us. I’ve never shared anything with him about Delta Green, but he’s pretty much figured out we’re public sector and that our mission is geared towards dealing with paranormal threats to public safety and national security that other agencies aren’t equipped to handle.] but perhaps you can ask yourself this question about the Group:
“What’s the biggest crisis the Group is capable of handling? At what point are events simply beyond your peoples’ means to control? That may seem like an odd question, but it’s one that has been occupying my every waking thought for the last weeks.
“I’m afraid that the secret I’ve stumbled onto may be too big, too deep, and too old.
“I can’t say much here, except that it has to do with New Orleans politics and corruption. And when I say corruption, I’m not talking about the usual bribes and kickbacks. I’m talking about the stink of the rotting dead.
“It’s a singularly loathsome secret, my old friend. A secret that may be the underlying foundation of this festering, over-built swamp we call a city.
“Maybe it was planned this way from the beginning? All the way back to 1718, when Nouvelle-Orleans was nothing more than a cluster of shanties built by convict labor? Even in those first days, this was a city of slow death and debauchery. Yellow Fever, sometimes called “Yellow Jack,” regularly boiled out of the swamps to ravage the population. While the last great epidemic was in 1905, for two centuries the plague season from July to October was the dominating principle of every resident’s life. Young or old, rich or poor, everyone bowed before Yellow Jack. The outbreaks between 1850 and 1855 were the worst, with something like ten percent of the city’s population dying every year. Of course, at the same time, New Orleans was at the pinnacle of its power, wealth and influence as the most important port in the nation.
“At first I thought that there was a connection between the city’s economic success and the plagues, as if the plague victims were sacrifices to some hungry god to ensure a successful harvest. But now I think the cadavers themselves are really the fuel for some terrible engine.
“Before I can tell you what I think is going on, I need proof. Otherwise I’m just another conspiracy theorist crank. New Orleans has had more than its fair share of those, and I don’t care to be lumped in with the likes of Jim Garrison. Even so, I couldn’t take the chance that something could happen to me before our next scheduled dead drop. Maybe this is just high drama. I can’t seem to differentiate between paranoia and prudence.
“If anything happens to me before my next dead drop, I urge you to look hard at the circumstances, no matter what they may appear to be or who may presents the facts to you. I’m on to something and I feel as if they are also on to me.”
The drop was dated two days ago. Or at least the letter was. I have no clue when he dropped his letter off, but having read it I immediately called him. He isn’t a paranoid. He isn’t prone to fearful ranting. To get something like that from him means that he’s into something he needs help getting out of immediately.
When I called, he didn’t answer at his shotgun in the Black Pearl, but the N.O.P.D. did. Seems the Crescent City’s finest had turned up on anonymous tip and the patrolmen had seen a child porn tape playing on the TV through the front window. Felony in sight, they forced the door, seized the tape, and made a search of the premises for Father Marks. Unable to locate him, the uniforms called the detectives and got a warrant to search the rest of the place. I badged my way in and checked the place out.
The locals had found a pile of kiddie porn. Whoever planted it did a shitty job of making it look like it wasn’t meant to be found. It was just piled up on shelves in his closet. The cops had already bundled his computer up. They were into all his books, just bundling things up and tossing it into cardboard file boxes. I took a quick look around trying to see if there was anything obvious that might suggest what Father Marks was working on. I decided not to waste too much time. Whoever bad jacketed the Father had probably already given the house the twice over. If he had any notes, they’d be gone. The computer might be wiped clean too. Won’t know until we get access to the N.O.P.D. evidence room. I’ll get to work on that through my people.
So here’s the wish list.
First, this should be reprioritized as an Opera. Maybe Father Marks just ran afoul of some bent city councilman or mob mouth-breather, but we have to be sure, and fast. I want to call in the rest of my Cell: Garret and Gillian. I could also use some back up. Agents, Friendlies or soldiers of fortune, I don’t care who they are as long as they have some experience in New Orleans. I don’t want to have to waste any time bringing anyone up to speed on the way things work in this open sewer.
Second, I want the locations and combinations of the New Orleans area Green Boxes and safe houses. I know a few of them, but I want to make sure that I know all of them are.
Third, I’m going to need one of Wu’s tech geeks to get into the computer system at Loyola. We need access to Father Marks’ account, there’s no telling what we might find in there. Also, if Wu can manage it, I’ll need credit card records, phone records and Internet account traffic on Marks.
Fourth, I’m off to burglarize Father Marks’ office at the University. If I can. I’d rather get in there before the guys who did this to him have a chance to clean it out, or the Crescent City’s finest contaminate the scene.
And Fifth, maybe you know what’s the biggest crisis we’re capable of handling? Because I sure don’t.
Be Seeing You,