A young man, all-American football player Don Rhiner is driving down a country lane when a young woman steps in front of him. He stops and gives her a lift and they take off. Later in the field, they embrace then go for a walk as another student sees them. They kiss and then the woman transforms into a hideous apparition and Don crawls back in terror as she embraces him.
Carl is driving to the Illinois State Tech College after ducking an assignment from Vincenzo by going to check on two dead bodies. Carl finds his buddy Captain Siska there with a coroner and the two bodies--Rhiner and his hitchhiker. Neither shows signs of trauma, although the woman's arm bears needle tracks, and Rhiner's face is a mask of terror. The coroner mentions they found another student days earlier with the same look of fright.
They’re interrupted by a female student reporter, Rosalind Winters, but Siska is more concerned about Kolchak. Siska escorts off Don’s friend Mark Hansen while Carl gets a ride to the gas station from Rosalind. She suggests they work together on the story and Carl is skeptical but relents. She reveals the first dead guy was also found with a dead girl but she doesn’t have any more information.
Passing himself off as a member of a coach’s association, Kolchak meets with IST’s Coach Toomey but the coach confirms both victims were in excellent shape.
10:25 that night, Craig Donnelly returns to his apartment with a girl, Betty Walker. Drunk, she falls down the stairs and dies, but while Craig calls for an ambulance Betty gets to her feet and walks out. Craig is puzzled by her absence and then overwhelmed by a ghastly stench.
At 11 p.m. that night, archaeology professor C. Evan Spate is working with Mark Hansen on a tablet in his study. Mark is still upset over Don Rhiner's death so Spate sends him home. After Mark leaves, Spate translates one of the symbols on the tablet as “death,” while Betty knocks on Mark Hansen’s door. He doesn’t know her, but she vamps her way in while a neighbor across the hall watches. Once the door is closed, Betty talks about how she’s seen his face so much and asks to touch it…
Siska is in Mark’s fraternity apartment the next day--Mark and Betty are dead. The neighbor across the hall reports what he saw. Carl is secretly recording the interview as the coroner confirms Walker died of a blow to the head and Mark died of natural causes. The coroner notes the same expression of terror on Mark's face. Rosalind barges past Carl drawing Siska's attention and Siska manhandles Carl's tape away from him and ejects both reporters.
Carl tracks down Donnelly who relates his story about Betty dying and then smelling the odor of “death.” Outside the registrar's office, Carl snags a badge from a convenient jacket and then goes to see the campus registrar to get the school records of the dead students. Even with the badge Carl has to wend through a Kafkaesque bureaucracy but manages to get the records.
At the INS, Emily is working on her crossword puzzle and Vincenzo is checking up on her out of boredom. When Carl arrives, Tony asks him what he’s been doing. Carl reveals that the woman with Rhiner, Marlene Franks, died eight hours earlier before Rhiner from a drug overdose. Tony isn’t interested even with Carl reveals another boy died, and that he was working with Professor Spate on some Sumerian clay tablets from Iraq. The tablets were found by a Professor Julius Whitehead, who went insane. Carl doesn't even get into what happened to Whitehead's assistants before Tony interrupts him. It seems Tony is considering a policy change. He wants more upbeat, dignified stories, and this definitely doesn't qualify.
Kolchak meets with Professor Spate and bluffs (badly) about being an expert with the Archaeology Quarter. He manages to learn that the tablet contains instructions for a religious rite, or a formula or recipe. It specifies things to be gathered and procedures to be performed. Spate catches on and orders Carl out, but Carl mentions that the three dead students are connected to Spate and each other. Carl also snags a photo of the tablet translation when Spate’s back is turned. Spate believes Whitehead was nuts even before Iraq.
May 12, Maria Venegas, an entertainer, dies of a gas leak in her apartment. The landlady smells the gas and investigates, and finds Maria dead. After she leaves, Maria gets up and leaves, and the landlady and her husband return to find an overwhelming stench of death.
At the news office, Carl is researching demons (and giving Miss Emily puzzle suggestions), and discovers demons give off a corrupt stench during moments of excitement or activity. Another section translates as "she will have reign" but it is unclear who "she" is. Tony is less than impressed with Carl’s demon investigations. Ron contributes an anecdote that starts out dignified but turns macabre; Tony is irked. A police radio broadcast of Maria’s death and subsequent disappearance draws Carl out of the office.
Carl gets to Maria's apartment where Siska is already investigating. Siska claims Maria must have revived in the fresh air and then left, but the landlady worked in a hospital for ten years, and is very sure Maria was dead. Carl confirms the horrific odor. Siska advances a theory that the deaths might be similar to mob killings from some while back--the killer used cyanide to fake heart attacks. Carl remembers the case but wonders why the killer would plant women's bodies next to the victims--Siska is forced to add a lunatic to his theory and even he realizes it doesn't hold much water.
Spate brings in another assistant, Mike Thompson, who is accompanied by…Maria. When she shakes hands with Spate, she begins laughing hysterically.
Carl arrives at Spate's home as an angry Mike departs with Maria running after him trying to apologize. She sees Carl and goes into Spate’s backyard, where she begins laughing again. A ghostly wind and horrific odor springs up and Carl staggers in as well, having recognized Maria from her picture at her apartment. Carl notices Spate has translated a new word – “succubus,” and wonders if it’s the “she” from the earlier translation. Carl tries to get Spate to explain what a succubus is but has to flee when campus security arrives.
Carl gets a lead to Dr. Salem Mozart, a narcoleptic translator who sells magazine subscriptions on the side. Mozart reveals that a succubus is a female demon that can animate dead woman. It lures young men into amorous situations, then transforms into a horrifying ghoul and kills them. Mozart also reveals that the tablet was mentioned in the stories of a 15th century Italian traveler named Pigofeta who spoke of a Mesopotamian empire ruled by a succubus. The traveler revealed that the tablet needed to be destroyed, but Mozart dozes off before he can give the whole story to Carl. Carl departs with Mozart's research materials, promising himself he'll return them later.
Carl works with Rosalind to translate the books and get more info on the “Michael” that he saw at Spate’s house. Carl manages to translate the papers. Ancient scholars of Jerusalem tried to destroy the tablet, but it was spirited away by a man named Yusef al Mahmoudi, who buried it for later recovery. It was next unearthed during the Crusades (when Pigofeta learned of it) and records describe male/female deaths like those occurring on campus. Rosalind finds the right Michael--Michael Thompson. Carl races to find him.
Carl returns to Spate’s house and breaks in, while the succubus (as Maria) approaches Mike in his office and tries to reconcile with him. Carl grabs a hammer and chisel but Spate confronts him. Carl shoves Spate aside as the Maria embraces Mike. Carl starts hammering at the tablet and the succubus shrieks in pain and collapses as an astonished Mike looks on. Then the succubus disappears, leaving Maria’s dead body.
At Spate’s house, the windows crash open in an unholy blast of wind while Carl hammers away at the tablet. The demon lunges at Carl and tries to wrestle him away as Spate looks on in horror. Carl manages to topple the tablet over and the demon “dies” once and for all on top of him, then decays in a matter of seconds into a pile of dust. Later the police go over the devastation but Spate covers for Carl and claims the tablet was destroyed by accident. Once more, Carl has no evidence and is stuck with a story that will never be published.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 17, 2017