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Three months after the incident... August, 1988

Rick was becoming more coherent, and at the same time he was making even less and less sense to Turner. He had finally agreed to talk to Turner about his memories. They all revolved around the mansion and the evils that it had contained. They'd taken Jennifer, he said... taken her away to another place entirely. He tried to save her, he'd said, but she had vanished before his eyes. He had talked to Turner about the Mask that had covered his face that night, although he still was missing some of his memories about it. He just remembered that it had talked to him, had tempted him with its power, and how it felt more evil than anything else in that horrible place. He didn't like to talk about it, though, so Turner didn't pry.

When he was finally told that he was the prime suspect in Jennifer's disappearance, he had angrily stated that no, he didn't kill her - it was the creatures in the mansion. They'd taken her away. He kept insisting over and over that he was innocent.

It was late evening. Storm clouds had been gathering all afternoon, and now the rain was coming down hard. Lightning was flashing once every few seconds as thunder crashed harshly in the distance. There hadn't been a storm like this in three months... the last time this kind of storm had come was the night of the incident.

Turner sat at his desk, a cigarette clutched in his hand, staring out at the rain. It was time for him to make the call he knew he had to make. He didn't want to do it - something in his head said that Rick was telling the truth about Jennifer's disappearance, despite how bizarre it sounded - but at the same time, he had to. Senator Willis himself had paid a visit to the Home at the end of last month, demanding that Rick be released so he could stand trial for his daughter's disappearance. Turner had vehemently argued with the senator, asking for one more month to try to make some more headway with Rick. The senator had grudgingly agreed, after listening to Turner's arguments. But now his month was up, and now there was nothing more he could do. He still felt that he could make more progress with Rick, and had even called the senator earlier that day to ask for yet another month's worth of time. The senator had flatly refused, saying that the extra time he had asked for a month ago was one month more than he had wanted to give in the first place.

Turner picked up the phone and dialed the police station. He entered Lieutenant Loker's extension, and waited patiently while he was connected.

"Loker," came the gruff voice over the other end of the line.

"This is Dr. Turner," Turner said.

"I take it there's been some kind of development in the case?"

"He's talking. He remembers what happened that night, and he swears that he's innocent."

"Has he told you what really happened?" Loker was definitely curious.

"He insists that there were creatures in the mansion. He says they took Jennifer away, that they made her vanish before his eyes."

Loker snorted in disbelief. "Bullshit," he said. "There was nothing in that mansion except for burnt lumber and wrecked furniture. The forensics team didn't find anything else."

"He says there was something else... a mask that had attached itself to his head. He couldn't take it off, no matter how hard he tried. He also says that the mask started talking to him, tempting him with power and urging him onward."

"He's insane," Loker sighed. "If it was up to me, I'd leave him with you people... but the senator wants him to stand trial."

"I think he's telling the truth," Turner said quietly.

Loker's laugh rung over the phone. "I think you're as crazy as he is if you believe that story. Hanging around that psycho's had an effect on you, Doc."

Turner's temper flared. "What time will you be here, Lieutenant?" he asked angrily.

"About nine or so," Loker replied. "There'll be a trial tomorrow if the senator has his way. Just have him ready for us."

"Fine," Turner snarled, then he slammed the phone down. Arrogant bastard, he thought.

* * *

He went in to see Rick a few minutes later. The storm was raging even harder outside now, and the lightning flash and crack of thunder was almost simultantaneous. Turner jumped slightly at a particularly loud crack of thunder, then opened the door to Rick's room. Rick looked up at his visitor and smiled at him - the first time Turner could ever remember him doing so.

"Hi," Rick said weakly. "What brings you here tonight?" Turner smiled back at him sadly, and decided not to beat around the bush for the reason of his visit.

"You're leaving, Rick," Turner said. "Tonight."

"What?" Rick asked. "Why?"

"There's nothing I can do about it, unfortunately. Senator Willis wants you to stand trial for Jennifer's disappearance. I asked him to give me one more month with you, but he refused."

"But I'm innocent!" Rick shouted. "I'm innocent! I know what I saw in that place, I know what I fought! I would never kill Jen! I loved her! Please, you've got to believe me!"

"For what it's worth, Rick," Turner said quietly, "I do believe you."

That brought Rick up short. "You believe me?" he asked just as quietly. Turner looked at him for a long minute.

"Yes, I do."

"Then why can't you stop them?"

"The fact that I believe you isn't enough to go on in a court of law, Rick. You know that. The fact remains... Jennifer is still missing, and to the rest of the world, you're still the number one suspect. I'm sorry."

An air of resignation seemed to hang over Rick. "That's it, then," he said.

"Your psychiatric evaluation will be appended to your file, so it will be used at your trial. I hope that will help at least somewhat."

Rick shook his head and said nothing else. They stood there and looked at each other for a long moment, then Turner turned and exited the room.

* * *

By nine, the storm had gotten so bad that you could barely see five feet in front of you. Curious weather for this time of year, Turner thought. I've never seen rain come down this hard unless it was hurricane season, and that doesn't really kick in for at least another month.

He walked by the security station at the front of the building, and watched as two headlights, barely visible through the thick rain, pulled into the parking lot. He could barely make out the two lieutenants getting out of the cruiser and heading for the door of the building. The door opened and they entered, absolutely soaked.

"Craziest weather I've seen all year," Manthey muttered. Loker nodded in agreement. Then they spotted Turner waiting for them. He shot an icy glare at Loker, then spoke.

"He's ready to go," Turner said.

* * *

Something odd was happening in Rick's room. He'd lay back down on the bed after Turner had left, and was just looking at the ceiling. After laying there for a while, he suddenly began to realize that he was not alone in the room.

He lifted his head up and looked around. He hadn't heard the door open, yet he felt a presence in the room. He sat up on the bed.

"Hello?" he said. "Hello?"

That's when the hairs on the back of his neck began to stand on end. He could feel it... it was here, and it wanted him. He jumped up and began banging on the door. "NO!!!" he screamed. "HELP! IT'S HERE! Somebody help me!"

In the window that was about head-level in the door, an image was forming. Rick recognized it instantly. With a scream of abject terror, he flung himself across the room.


"STAY AWAY FROM ME!!!" he screamed at the top of his lungs as he sank to the floor.

* * *

One of the guards suddenly poked his head out of the security room.

"Dr. Turner!" he shouted. Turner and the two lieutenants stopped where they were, then turned and walked into the security room.


"Something's up with your boy," he said, and pointed at the monitor.

* * *

She doesn't have to die, Rick...

"Those monsters killed her!" he screamed at the rapidly forming image. "She's gone! LEAVE ME ALONE!"

Jennifer's alive, Rick...

Rick froze. A tiny gleam of hope appeared in his heart.


Only I have the power to help you save her...

"She's alive..."

Go back to the house... Jennifer's there...

"She's alive..."

and I'll be waiting for you.

The image had fully formed now. It was the thing from the fifth sketch Rick had drawn... the Mask. The Mask that had covered his face that horrible night. The Mask that had tempted him with its awful evil, that had given him the power to escape the mansion - and would give him the power to rescue Jennifer from wherever she was being held now, he realized as the rest of his memories came flooding back. He had liked the power, he realized with a start... and he wanted to be in command of that kind of power again.

You need me.

"Yes..." he whispered.

The image of the Mask moved toward him as he stood up...

* * *

Turner stared at the security monitor that showed Rick's room. Loker and Manthey were also looking at it closely. "What's he doing?" Manthey asked as they watched Rick's demeanor change from frightened to determined.

"I don't know... I've never seen him like this before," Turner admitted. Rick suddenly looked at the camera, a feral grin on his face. The look alone caused all four men to recoil in surprise.

"SHE'S ALIVE!" he shouted in manic glee, then he threw his head back as a loud, ominous laugh emitted from his throat. Then he threw himself against the door, hard. It was quite obvious he was trying to break out. They could hear the door groaning as he slammed into it again and again.

"Let's get down there!" Loker exclaimed, pulling out his gun. That's when there was a trememendous crashing sound as the door to Rick's room flew off of its hinges and crashed against the opposite wall! Manthey yanked his gun out of his holster as the alarm started blaring. The two of them ran out of the room as fast as possible.

Turner, meanwhile, had seen something else in the monitor. The security guards had stormed out after Loker and Manthey, so he was alone in the room. As he looked closely, trying to make out what it was that was appearing on the monitor, it suddenly became clear to him. He jumped backwards in surprise as the image pulled itself out of the monitor and seemed to float in front of him. It was the Mask. Its sightless eyeholes seemed to bore into his very soul.

It laughed... it was the most evil laugh that Turner had ever heard. It rumbled through the building, shaking it to its very foundations. To Turner, it sounded like the hollow laughter of Death himself.

Then the power went out. The entire building was plunged into darkness.

Turner heard gunshots coming from somewhere further down the hall. A few seconds later, he heard the sound of running feet go right past the security room, followed by more pairs further down the hall. Turner charged out into the dark hallway, just in time to see the front door slam and, as lightning continued to flash, he saw a dark figure running off into the forest surrounding the Home.

Turner yanked open the front door and ran out into the rain. It soaked him to the bone after just a few seconds outside. He stopped on the top step and tried to see through the pouring rain. The wind whipped past him as lightning continued to flash. He could just make out Rick's silhouette in the forest.

"RICK!!!" he shouted, but the sound was swept away by the wind. Loker, Manthey and the security guards came up behind him.

"WHY DIDN'T YOU STOP HIM?" Manthey shouted, trying to be heard above the wind. Loker, meanwhile, had charged down to the cruiser and gotten in. He appeared to be talking into the radio. Turner turned and walked back into the Home, followed closely by Manthey and the guards.

"Why didn't you stop him?" Manthey repeated as soon as they were inside. Turner looked at him. An odd gleam had appeared in his eyes.

"He was out the door before I could do anything," he said quietly. "I suppose Loker is putting out an A.P.B. on him now, isn't he?"

"That's police buisness," Manthey snapped. Without another word, he stormed out of the Home, headed for the cruiser. Turner watched him go, then turned and headed back to his office. the last words he'd heard Rick say echoed in his head. The power was slowly starting to come back on.

She's alive!

He reached his office and sat in his chair. He pulled a cigarette out of the desk drawer and lit it, then pulled out Rick's file. He opened it, then pulled out one of the sketches that Rick had drawn.

It was the sketch of the Mask. Turner looked at it for a long moment, staring deep into its sightless eyes. Then he stood up, walked out to the restroom, crumpled up the sketch and used his cigarette lighter to set it aflame. As the sketch burned, he heard the fire alarms go off, but he didn't care. He dropped it in the sink, where it quickly burned to nothing. The sprinklers in the restroom activated, drenching him for the second time in five minutes, but again - he didn't care.

Good luck, Rick, he thought.

As the image of the Mask flashed before his eyes again, another thought entered his head.

And may God help you...