KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER
THE HIGHLAND TERROR
My first Night Stalker fan fiction. I do not own the magic of David Chase or the eternal greatness of Darren McGavin. Please comment nicely!
KOLCHAK: This is a story that will prove once and for all that love, in addition to being blind, is also terrifying.
Wednesday 1:45 AM. Mickey McTavish was a homeless man. He was also a dirty, foul-smelling drunk. A scavenger and a panhandler, Mickey was used to foraging in restaurant dumpsters for food and booze. He always reeked, but on this particular night Mickey reeked not of cheap wine but of fine Scotch whiskey. That smell led to his doom.
Thursday 8:55 AM. They call Chicago the Windy City. But not all the wind comes off Lake Michigan. So when the new sewage processing plant opened, it was a major news event. Major enough to make my twisted, sadistic editor Tony Vincenzo threaten me with dire consequences when I showed just a slight reluctance to attend the press briefing.
DR. JAMES GRAHAM, CHIEF SANITATION ENGINEER: As you can see, ladies and gentlemen, the raw sewage enters our gigantic space-age filtration system here, and emerges over there, free of germs and odor and ideal for use as garden fertilizer. Just like the finest Scottish peat from the Highland bogs, this new compound will encourage growth in even the most decayed tissue. It can also be eaten dry as a cracker! We call it "Soylent Graham."
KOLCHAK: Doctor! Over here! Kolchak, INS. Is there any connection between the amazing fertility of this new compound and the hacked up remains of that hobo?
DR. GRAHAM: Hobo? What hobo? I don't see any . . .
KOLCHAK: The one lying right there in the central vat. Are you gonna eat him, doc, or just spread him on your tulips?
POLICE CAPTAIN DUNCAN: Shut up, Kolchak! Shut up or I'll kill you!
DR. GRAHAM: Now, now, Captain. There's no reason to eliminate the press from our press conference. Mr. Kolchak, it's a tragic fact that homeless men frequently get drunk and fall into open sewers, where they soon drown. It's just part of life in the big city. That poor man's death was a tragedy, yet progress marches on, thanks to better and better sewage treatment in the city of Chicago!
KOLCHAK: I knew Duncan was all talk. But something was fishy in the sewer system. So I left the press conference and drove around looking cool in my yellow Mustang convertible. Then I paid a visit to my favorite morgue attendant, Gordon Spangler, also known as Gordie the Ghoul.
GORDIE THE GHOUL: Boy, Kolchak, you wouldn't believe how few people actually want to buy photos of me having sex with stiffs in the meat locker!
KOLCHAK: Sounds like you need better looking corpses. Speaking of corpses, could I see the autopsy report on Mickey McTavish? The drunk who got drowned in the sewer?
GORDIE THE GHOUL: He didn't drown, Kolchak. He just got mysteriously hacked and mangled somehow. I think there's some kind of poop monster living in the sewers!
KOLCHAK: A monster? Let me see that report!
GORDIE THE GHOUL: But you know, I don't think the stiffs are really the problem. Take that black numbers runner over there. He's dead but he's still standing tall. Have you ever seen such a magnificent male member on a man?
KOLCHAK: Look, I'll buy one of your stupid pictures! Just let me see . . .
GORDIE THE GHOUL: You're a good looking guy, Kolchak. How about a picture of you and the dead numbers runner together? Something sexy, you know, like he's just lying there and you've got his big black dingus stuffed in your mouth.
KOLCHAK: No! No no no! Absolutely no way . . .
GORDIE THE GHOUL: Sure is funny, though. Why would a sewer monster made out of human excrement need to kill people with a bladed weapon similar to a claymore, the legendary two-handed Scottish sword from the Middle Ages?
KOLCHAK: I did what I had to do, then took a look at the autopsy report. Gordy was right. Whoever or whatever had killed Mickey McTavish had been wielding a weapon from the days of Bonnie Prince Charlie. My next stop: the Scottish American History Club in North Riverside.
MRS. MCGILLICUDDY: That is an outrageous question, Mr. MacKolchak! The answer is no. In all the proud history of the Highlands, there has never been a tale of a poop monster coming to life and attacking people!
KOLCHAK: But what about the peat bogs? Were there monsters in the peat bogs? They say the peat bogs of Scotland were chemically much like the big city sewers in Chicago today.
MRS. MCGILLICUDDY: I'm not a chemist, Mr. MacKolchak. But only true Highland warriors carried the claymore, and no true Highlander ever took up residence in the peat bogs, unless he was a total failure and a disgrace! Would that description fit any of your ancestors, Mr. MacKolchak? If that really is your name. And may I say that you look absolutely ridiculous wearing a kilt with that silly little straw hat!
KOLCHAK: My poop monster theory was starting to smell worse than the Chicago sewers. I rode my flashy yellow convertible over to Dr. Graham's house, letting the late night shadows make my face look extra cool and dramatic. Graham was a Scottish name, and I was hoping the good doctor could explain to me why a bum messing around in his sewer system just happened to get killed by a Scottish sword. But as I pulled up in front of his classy North Lakeshore Drive town house, I realized once again that I had no idea what was really going on.
DR. GRAHAM: AUUUUUGGGHHHH!
KOLCHAK: Having Dr. Graham's head bounce off my windshield convinced me that he couldn't have killed poor Mickey McTavish. Unfortunately, having his blood and guts sprayed all over the hood of my car also convinced Captain Duncan that I was responsible for his murder. The usual freewheeling interrogation scene ensued.
CAPTAIN DUNCAN: All right, Kolchak. Let's hear it again.
KOLCHAK: I'm telling you I saw a Highland warrior in a kilt waving a broadsword! He killed Graham, sent his head flying, and then he just vanished! I think he jumped into the sewer to escape. But he didn't smell as bad as I expected!
CAPTAIN DUNCAN: The only thing that smells around here is you, Kolchak! Now we've been getting calls all week from these kooky environmental groups complaining about Graham's new sewage system. If you got a picture of one of them killing him then that's evidence! Hard evidence!
KOLCHAK: Hey! That's my camera! You can't just take my camera! I have rights, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution!
POLICE CAPTAIN DUNCAN: Shut up, Kolchak! Shut up or I'll kill you!
KOLCHAK: In poetic terms, Captain Duncan took a dump all over me, my story, and the Constitution of the United States. Practically speaking, he took my film and smashed my camera. So what else is new? The only thing Duncan didn't take was the old Scottish medallion I found embedded in the grill of my classic '65 Mustang. The next day I put my story on the wire and waited for the inevitable explosion.
VINCENZO: ANCIENT SCOTTISH AVENGER ROAMING THE CITY SEWERS? Have you gone crazy, Kolchak? Do you want the whole city to panic? How are people supposed to go to the bathroom if they think Braveheart is hiding in the toilet waiting to stab them in the ass?
RON UPDYKE: I'm afraid to use the Men's Room as it is. Some people never remember to flush twice!
KOLCHAK: Look, Tony, the cops think a crazed hippy environmentalist killed Graham and McTavish. But only a Highland warrior could handle a blade like that – and only a ghost warrior could vanish into the sewers and not stink to high heaven!
VINCENZO: This story is what stinks to high heaven, Kolchak! You've got a guy in a plaid skirt who walks through walls, playing slice and dice with one of Chicago's leading scientists. And you don't even have a motive!
KOLCHAK: Graham was a Scotsman, and so was that drunk McTavish. Now Highlanders have feuds – vendettas – killing is a matter of honor, and every clan has a motto they have to live up to in any way they can.
VINCENZO: Great, Carl, just great. So this spooky Scotsman carves E Pluribus Unum into Dr. Graham's chest with a steak knife because he undercooked the haggis?
KOLCHAK: It's the medallion, it's got to be. Some kind of threat, or warning. Look at these words, Tony. I think it's Gaelic! "En ma fin est ma commencement." It's got to mean something fierce, savage. "Born to kick ass?" "Don't tread on me?" Maybe it's "do unto others before they do unto you!"
RON UPDYKE: That happens to be French, not Gaelic. And that lovely quote is not the war cry of some hairy-chested brute. It's from scripture, and it means, "In my end is my beginning." Mary Queen of Scots used it as her personal motto. I have a book of her embroidery patterns in my desk!
VINCENZO: Mary Queen of Scots! Oh, that's brilliant, Ron. That's just great. A five-hundred year old woman armed with knitting needles is running wild in the streets of Chicago!
RON UPDYKE: Mr. Vincenzo, Mary Stuart was a gentle woman, in every sense of the word. She loved children, and dogs, and she even popularized the game of golf!
KOLCHAK: But where do the sewers come in, and why does the killer take refuge in the toilet?
VINCENZO: That does it! I'll show you who's taking refuge in the toilet, Carl. I'll show you who's taking refuge in the toilet!
KOLCHAK: No, Tony! Wait! Don't shove my head in the . . . glub, blub, blub!
VINCENZO: Look into the bowl, Kolchak. That's right. Look into the bowl! There's nothing to be afraid of inside the toilet. Nice people come in here to take a dump. To! Take! A! Dump! Just like the tremendous dump you've been taking all over this news service for years!
KOLCHAK: Vincenzo stuffing my head into the toilet bowl while Ron and Miss Emily looked on in horror made me feel like a disgraced Highland warrior. Suddenly the truth hit me. I raided Uptight's desk for research, then jumped in my yellow Mustang and drove across town like a madman.
MRS. MCGILLICUDDY: Oh, those horrible men! They went through everything! All my records . . . all my heirlooms . . . everything's been turned upside down and ruined!
KOLCHAK: Who did this to you, Mrs. McGillicuddy? Who started the feud? Was it the Grahams? The McTavishes?
MRS. MCGILLICUDDY: It was the Chicago Police. They came in just after closing time, and that awful Captain Duncan began tearing the historical archives apart. It's going to take hours to . . . but why are you recording what I say? Why are you taking those ridiculous pictures?
KOLCHAK: Now listen to me, Mrs. McGillicuddy. You might not believe this, but I'm not really a Scottish genealogy expert from the University at Aberdeen. My name is Carl Kolchak, and I'm a reporter. There have been two murders already, and there's likely to be plenty more before the night is over. So I need you to tell me now, who started the feud? Who is in disgrace? What is the connection between the McTavish Clan, the Duncans, and the Grahams?
MRS. MCGILLICUDDY: There was no feud, Mr. Kolchak. All of the clans you mentioned, as well as my own, were guilty of a terrible crime. A shameful crime! It was the killing of Johnny Logan. Oh, how ashamed I am of the Highlands!
KOLCHAK: Johnny Logan? Who is Johnny Logan?
MRS. MCGILLICUDDY: He was Queen Mary's favorite bodyguard, and her most trusted friend, the bravest, handsomest lad in all the Highlands. The English laid a trap for Mary, but they needed Johnny out of the way first. They bribed the clan chieftains to lure the lad to a secluded spot. Then they chopped him to pieces and dumped him in a bog. When the queen was captured later that day, she called for the lad, but he was nowhere to be found. That was when she cursed poor Johnny to roam the earth forever, searching for the lady he had abandoned. And until he found her he was to remain tied to all the filthy places of the earth, like the peat bogs where disgraced warriors went to die.
KOLCHAK: Then Mary never knew what really happened? She thought he deserted her on purpose! No wonder he keeps on killing. He'll never stop until she forgives him!
MRS. MCGILLICUDDY: Aye, we're all doomed, Mr. Kolchak. Our shame is heavy. The Highlands are disgraced for ever!
KOLCHAK: Listen, Mrs. McGillicuddy. We've got to get a message to Mary. How do you summon up a Scottish ghost?
MRS. MCGILLICUDDY: Well, I . . . I suppose it could be done. You'd need to have something that was precious to the ghost in life, and go to a place where the spirit would have happy memories . . . a place they'd find familiar. Oh, Mr. Kolchak, do you really think the queen will forgive us?
KOLCHAK: It was after midnight when I jumped in my yellow Mustang and sped off into the blackness. I had a book of Mary's favorite embroidery patterns on my front seat, courtesy of Ron Updyke, but I didn't have any idea where a ghostly Scottish queen would feel at home . . . until I remembered the Chicago Golf Club. The oldest 18-hole golf course in North America, it was founded in 1894 by Charles B. MacDonald.
GHOSTLY BAGPIPES: Brum, brrrumm, brum, brrrumm . . .
KOLCHAK: The eighteenth green sure is spooky at night. Look, evidence! Doctor Graham's headless corpse – and his bankbook! First I'll snap a few pictures. Then I'll open the embroidery book and dance around it, doing the steps Mrs. McGillicuddy showed me. Left two three, right two three, left two three, right two three. Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow . . .
CAPTAIN DUNCAN: All right, Kolchak, knock it off! This isn't dancing with the ghouls! This is private property, and you're trespassing!
KOLCHAK: Well, Captain Duncan, what a surprise! Looks like you've got quite a crime scene over there. Someone took Doc Graham's body and dumped it here along with some financial records. Just what were you and the doctor up to, anyway? Ripping off the city by building a sewer system that doesn't work? Or maybe just selling dead human bodies as fertilizer, and covering up the evidence by dumping it in the sewer? Of course this isn't the first time the clans have murdered and hidden the evidence together is it?
POLICE CAPTAIN DUNCAN: Shut up, Kolchak! Shut up or I'll kill you!
KOLCHAK: This time he wasn't bluffing. Duncan knew he had to kill me or I'd blow the story wide open . . . the ancient crime, the modern one, and the eternal connection between greed and stupidity. Duncan knew what he had to do. He pulled his pistol, and I thought it was all over . . . but then he lost his head. I mean, he really lost his head.
POLICE CAPTAIN DUNCAN: AUUUUUGGGHHHH!
KOLCHAK: Don't kill me! Don't kill me! Please don't kill me!
THE HIGHLAND TERROR: Where is she, man? Where is she?
THE QUEEN OF SCOTS: I'm here, Johnny.
THE HIGHLAND TERROR: Lass, is that you? I never meant to leave you, I swear it!
THE QUEEN OF SCOTS: It's all right, my love. Come away with me now. It's time for us to rest. Mr. Kolchak, thank you for uncovering the truth and bringing us back together. Is there anything we can do for you?
KOLCHAK: Ack! That sword! Oh, uh . . . yes, Your Majesty, if you wouldn't mind. There is one thing before you go . . .
POLICE SIRENS: WOOOOOOOOOOOO!
KOLCHAK: The police pulled me in for questioning, but they let me go. I think it had something to do with the evidence on the eighteenth green. The death of Captain Duncan and the theft of Doctor Graham's body were officially listed as part of a gay suicide pact gone bad. Mrs. McGillicuddy is still mad at me for getting her archives impounded by the police, but she's rebuilding her Scottish collection . . . with a little help from my good friends Miss Emily Cowles and Mr. Ron Updyke. And as for you, dear reader . . .
VINCENZO: Kolchak, will you stop talking into that stupid tape recorder? Why don't you get out of the office, and go dig up some real stories like a real reporter? Maybe then people will forget about all those photos floating around of you having sex with that black numbers runner!
KOLCHAK: I told you before, Tony, that was just for a story. And anyway, he was dead when the photo was taken!
VINCENZO: Kolchak, why do I always end up feeling sick to my stomach whenever I talk to you? Oh, boy. Now I have to go to the toilet. I think it's all the food I ate at Manny's!
KOLCHAK: Sure, Tony, that's all it is. But say, you better be careful when you go to the toilet. You never know when the pipes might suddenly back up . . .
VINCENZO: AUUUUUGGGHHHH! It's all over me! And that smell. That horrible, horrible smell!
KOLCHAK: And as for you, dear reader, if you should ever happen to find yourself alone, on the throne, late at night, and you suddenly hear a strange moaning and grumbling from far below . . . well, just be thankful it's only the pipes.