In the centre of the church the pews had been pushed back and a circle drawn. Around its edge candles flicked and in the middle was a single hooded figure. He was chanting slowly in a low tone, his eyes fixed forward. The gibbous moon was shining through the stained glass sending eldritch colours into the church and over the hooded man.
Suddenly the main door burst open and three figures came in. One was performing a kind of shimmying dance which was seemingly keeping a hoop around his waist. The other two were clutching onto hoops. The one dancing was chanting too, but was putting a bit more rhythm and melody into it, and ending every phrase with “hoop-la”.
The hooded man spun round to look at the trio.
“There are forces beyond your ken in this very room,” he said. “If you’ve a care for your lives or your sanity, you’ll flee now.”
“Oh, I don’t think we need to … worry too much hoop-la,” sang Lord Hollingbury. “See here these magic circles … keep us safe from what-nots.”
Sir John raised up the Cryptozoetropometer whilst hanging onto his hoop and looked at the hooded man.
“It’s definitely him,” said Sir John.
“You mean the chap with robes on? Standing in the circle?” said Lord Hollingbury. He grabbed the hoop and stopped his dancing and singing.
“You really needed that device to work that out?” he asked. Sir John went red.
“I wanted to be sure,” he said.
“Messieurs!” said Marie. “Can we focus on the man? He could get away.”
“Oh, I don’t think so. See, he’s as trapped in his circle as we are in ours,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Aren’t you, Reverend Phillips?”
There was a noise at the back as someone entered the room.
“What’s going on?” said a voice. “What’s happening in my church?”
Reverend Phillips walked up the aisle to the circle, the hooded man inside, and the trio of investigators.
“What’s the meaning of this?” he said.
“You’re not the cultist?” said Sir John. “Then who is that in the circle?”
The man in the circle was starting some more incantations.
“He’s trying to banish the ghoulish what-nots,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Quick, stop him!”
Sir John rushed forward with the Cryptozoetropometer, clutching his hoop.
“Are you going to reverse the polarity and fire etheric energy at him?” asked Lord Hollingbury.
“Actually, I was going to hit him with it,” said Sir John.
“Alright, alright, I surrender,” said the hooded man.
“Let’s see who you are, then,” said Sir John and pulled back the hood. A gasp went out when the man was revealed.
“It’s Mr Joseph the lighthouse keeper!” exclaimed everyone at once.
“I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you well-meaning but impractical paranormal investigator, mysterious powerful French woman, and sexually ambiguous, morally dubious aristocrat.”
“I bet you say that to all the girls,” said Lord Hollingbury.