Sunday, July 11, 2010, throughout the day and following week
Gidget drives east from Los Angeles, deciding to drive during the day and sleep at rest stops by night. Her drive is uneventful, largely passing through desert, until she stops in Kansas on Tuesday night. She is awakened by a tapping at her door, and sees a disheveled African-American woman with mismatched clothes and a pistol. The woman demands a ride north, so Gidget unlocks the passenger door and lets her in. The woman seems overall intense, and mutters under her breath about “escaping them” and “going to Canada.” Gidget tries to make conversation, but as the woman does not seem terribly jovial, she simply drives north, driving about fifteen hours straight through. The woman asks to be let off as they approach the border, and Gidget stops the car, allowing her to get out. Gidget then gets her bearings and drives the roughly three hours to Fargo, North Dakota, before finding a place to stop. She emails Dr. Zirpoli to let him know that she plans to meet him in Terra Lake, Indiana, and then stops for the night.
Awakening on Thursday, she decides to drive straight through, stopping halfway to check her email. She finds that she has received an email from Dr. Zirpoli, and he indicates that he should arrive in Terra Lake on Friday and be there over the weekend. Gidget finally arrives in Terra Lake on Thursday evening.
Entering from the west, Gidget is initially greeted by a brick building with a gaudy neon sign reading “Bird of Paradise” and tagged on the side with the phrase “THE WHITE ZONE IS FOR LOADING AND UNLOADING ONLY” in white spraypaint. After seeing the sign for Terra Lake and passing what appeared to be a diner called Eddie’s, she finds herself in the town proper. She drives for a while until she sees that a carnival is occurring in the town square, and parks to investigate. She takes the opportunity to text Paul and Lilith to ask about things she should do while in town.
Gidget is greeted by the “First Annual Terra Lake Carnival,” apparently sponsored by Jones-Klein-Beauchamp, which she recognizes as a European pharmaceutical company. She acquires a pamphlet that features a map and some information about the town, and hears from Paul, who recommends the Super 8 as a place to stay, and recommends eating at the Emerald Dragon or Eddie’s. Lilith later responds, indicating that she didn’t do a whole lot while there, though her shack in the woods might still be around if Gidget needs a quiet place to stay. After having her fill of carnival food, Gidget goes to the Super 8 and gets a room for the night. Before going to sleep, she checks some news, first learning that she likely gave a ride to one Elinor Fossett, recently escaped from a mental institution in Kansas. She also learns that Jennifer Caulfield is in custody, as noted in Portland and San Francisco newspapers, though information about the shooting incident is pending. Finally, she reads a little about the town, learning that during the first half of 2009, Terra Lake was subject to a period of disappearances and murders. The FBI came to investigate, and uncovered a serial killer and corporate corruption at the local chemical plant. Around summer, the strange events in Terra Lake end roughly around the time about fifty members of a local small church called the Church of Ezekiel’s Divine Revelation commit suicide. The articles also mention the discovery of a new species of fish called the groetnich (Neouranolophus zirpoli) in Terra Lake, apparently the case that brought Dr. Zirpoli to the area in the first place.
Friday morning, Gidget awakens and decides to explore. She first calls Dr. Zirpoli and leaves a voicemail message for him, saying she is in the area. Then, she drives out to the woods — past a pond surrounded by a chainlink fence — and goes hiking. Not finding anything out of the ordinary, she drives back into town and does a little more newspaper research at the local library, though she doesn’t find too much more information. After hearing from Dr. Zirpoli, they decide to meet for dinner at the Emerald Dragon at 6:30 PM.
Gidget arrives around 6:30, finding Dr. Zirpoli already there. After exchanging pleasantries, she asks about the strange occurrances in the town. Dr. Zirpoli says he knows little about them, only arriving in the wake of a murder investigation to investigate the groetnich. He does know that one of the paranormal investigators in town committed the murder, unbeknownst to his fellows, and that the investigators were sickened by radiation poisoning. When Gidget inquires about this, Dr. Zirpoli explains that it was some sort of giant cockroach that produced a blue flash, though he knows no details about it, having been in the town for a short time. He did help clean the radiation, however, surreptitiously. He also mentions a series of caves under the woods, which he also briefly surveyed, and noted a gate to Another Place in them.
After explaining that he is in town to check on the progress of the Terra Lake Ichthyological Research Society, he indicates that she is welcome to join his survey. She agrees, and he indicates he will call her tomorrow, though he expects it to be around noon. The two then part company for the evening, briefly seeing each other at the motel before Gidget goes to her room for the night.
The next morning, Gidget awakens to explore more, possibly to look for Lilith’s shack or the caves. She finds the caves, but has to return to town to purchase a flashlight. After doing so, she goes through the cave network, filled primarily with old, gnawed animal bones and occasional streaks of dried blood. The most interesting thing appears to be a dead end marked with an old cave painting of a horned serpent. Underneath this is a smiley face, painted in spraypaint, and smears of dried blood mark the cave wall. Gidget recalls that the horned serpent was the guardian of the Underworld to the Southern Cult, but still is not certain of the significance.
She emerges from the cave and returns to her motel just in time to hear from Dr. Zirpoli, saying that everyone is meeting around noon. He says that he can drive her if she would like, and she agrees, taking a moment to clean up. Then, she and Dr. Zirpoli drive to the lake.
Upon arriving at the lake, they meet with the members of the Terra Lake Ichthyological Research Society — still primarily academics from Indianapolis — for the survey. They bring Dr. Zirpoli up to date on their findings, largely involving what little they are able to observe of the voracious predator. This also includes anecdotal evidence from old Indian legends and current urban legends. After a few hours of investigation and discussion, Dr. Zirpoli and Gidget take their leave. Gidget thanks Dr. Zirpoli for the opportunity, and then returns to her motel room.
Gidget then calls Paul to talk about what she has done and to ask him a little more about what he knows regarding the town. He mentions some of the people whom he encountered in town, though she doesn’t really find anything on them other than their involvement in several news stories of the time (and a lone YouTube video). She takes the rest of the day to do some more research, explore a little more, and read.
The next morning, Gidget awakens and after looking around a bit, decides to move on. She starts gathering herself to hit the road once again.