Dr Cavendish rushes from the Yarra Bend Golf Course, back to his laboratory in Northcote, to treat Onyx’s injuries and their apparent case of super-rapid syphilis that was inflicted by the ghul. (Abul also has a minor injury, but it is easily treated.) Cavendish is confounded by Onyx’s illness; the syphilis isn’t just cured by penicillin, it ‘retreats’ – their diseased, rotting flesh regenerates before his eyes! But at the same time, it only regenerates so far and then stops, in a strange wavering state where the sickness comes and goes – almost like it was being imposed on Onyx, rather than a natural infection. Cavendish tries to make sense of the samples he’s taken – and tries to block out the eerie beat and loop of numbers that he keeps hearing at the edge of his awareness…
Across the street, in his secret B Wing offices, Agent Smint has a difficult phone call with his superiors, who haul him over the coals for his misuse of resources and disregard for secrecy. Before he can plead his case further, he’s interrupted by the doorbell – a stern middle-aged woman ringing for access to a place no-one should know exists. The woman demands the loss of her stolen property – an audio tape that was taken from the golf course – and is completely uninterested in excuses or claims to authority. Smint finally gets her name – Dr Eleanor Colfax, a psychiatric researcher at Thomas Embling Hospital, just next to the golf course – and tells her that he’ll need to collect the tape from B Wing HQ. She waits in a car outside, while he drives off – and parks just around the corner to call HQ. But Colfax follows him and confronts him – and when he draws a gun to intimidate her, she jabs him in the neck with a taser, grabs the tape and leaves.
In his lab, Cavendish discovers syphilis-like symptoms (boils, pus, gummas etc) erupting on the surface of his equipment – metal and plastic are becoming diseased! A gunshot from outside attracts Abul’s attention – she runs out to find a woozy Smint driving back to the lab. His superiors have disavowed him; the only hope for his career is to wrap this case up quietly, and he needs his allies to come with him to Thomas Embling.
The psychiatric hospital is a secure facility, with retinal scanners and plain-clothes security guards – and it’s currently in lockdown due to a fire. Smint’s ID gets them past the initial police presence, but the internal guards refuse to let them without appointments and approval. Onyx overwhelms the guard with their mental abilities, but suffers a seizure in the process, and is left behind as the others run into the (very pleasant) facility compound to look for Dr Colfax and the mysterious tape. Instead, they find a lot of confused and frightened staff, a number of firemen and a building on fire – and Dr Colfax’s office, a mess of audio splicing equipment, books on Fortean phenomena, scribbled and incoherent notes and a pulsating and diseased brain in a jar.
Onyx recovers and makes their way through the hospital, discovering Dr Colfax badgering an orderly to play her tape over the PA system. They capture her and force her back to the burning offices, extracting fragmentary information from her in the process. Colfax has devised a radical treatment for psychiatric patients, involving an artificial engram shaped by ghostly energies and magnetically imprinted into the brain. She trialled the process last night, using a stolen brain and the magnetic nexus contained on the tape to summon and bind ghosts from the old asylum’s lost cemetary – but Onyx realises that what she has actually summoned is the disease spirit trapped long ago by indigenous elders, and that everyone who hears the recording will turn into a ghul.
The brain lashes out with waves of magnetic force, turning the office into a deathtrap, and Cavendish is increasingly suffering under the psychic onslaught of the disease spirit within the engram. Abul uses her magic to expel the spirit – but it jumps over into Cavendish’s brain, paralysing him and slowly morphing him into a ghul! In the telekinetic chaos, Smint is thrown through a window to land outside next to Colfax as Onyx runs inside. Abul uses a live electrical cable to shock the spirit out of Cavendish and into Colfax’s brain; Onyx plays the tape backwards over the recording equipment, temporarily locking the spirit into place – and Smint shoots Colfax in the head, killing her and destroying the spirit.
In the aftermath, the four monster hunters make their escape from the Hospital before more police come – disavowed by B Wing, disgraced by their very public and violent escapades, disabled by their awful injuries. But still, they fight the good fight.
Someone has to.