Again, the six travelers found their entire world fantastically transformed around them. This time, the nightmarishly twisted reflection of their own time faded into a quaintly sleepy but definitely living town, mostly located in the valley below, where there had been a lake only moments before. The crypt and the keys were gone. Nearby, they could see a long, dilapidated building where previously there had been only a chimney. Down the hillside, where they had emerged from the Zodiac Well, there was a tangle of barbed wire and a thick tarp staked to the ground.
The road that had formerly plunged into the lake now wound into a small town in the valley below, dominated by a large concrete building. Along the way, it ran past another hotel that perched over the clear, glittering stream that ran along the floor of the valley. Nick, using his cosmic awareness, had a strange vision of overlapping versions of the town, like a bad 3-D image without the glasses.
After careful observation from their current position and some discussion, they decided to investigate the town and see what they could find out about where they were.
They found that the town was Silver Springs, Arkansas, and the large building was actually a bank, with a large, impressive lobby. There were several windows, but only one teller and a sleepy guard seemed to be working today. The teller was able to provide them with some information about the town, including the fact that the resort was bankrupt because of “Coin Harvey’s crazy pyramid.” The teller was also the first of several townspeople to demonstrate a marked prejudice against Mirela.
Having learned that Harvey charged admission to see his amphitheater (which the teller had referred to as a “pyramid”) they decided to try and obtain some money. Nick hit on the idea of selling some of Mirela’s costume jewelery at the general store. She was game for this, so Nick went in alone with a story about a dead wife and financial hardship and they made a couple of dollars.
The road from the main block of town out to Harvey’s amphitheater went through the serene park land along the Big Spring with its artificial waterfall and “lagoon” and up to the abandoned train station, which was directly across from the asymmetrical and just generally weird amphitheater. From the middle of the amphitheater ran the spring that fed the stream they had been following. A little ways up the hill sat a largish house, which they had been told was Harvey’s. A fence surrounded the site, with a guard shack near the road where the admission price was to be paid.
Rather than go directly to the amphitheater, they decided to see if they could talk to William “Coin” Harvey first. At the house, they noticed that the crypt was now next to the house, but had only the son’s name and no key holes.
Coin was home, but only yelled at the door until they convinced him that they were time travelers, or at least knew a troubling number of details about his tomb and the keys. He let them in, fed them, and told them about the shining visitor who appeared to be made of glass and warned him that the world was ending. Oddly enough, the visitor had actually said that it did end, not that it would. Coin told them all about his plan to build an obelisk that would contain cultural treasures and an account of the economic doom that he was convinced would topple his entire civilization. He had, unfortunately, run out of money after building the amphitheater and been unable to raise more to build the obelisk.
When they drew the keys for him, Coin agreed that he had seen them before, but not on his son’s crypt. He took them to the amphitheater to show them the spot. At the back of one of the strange cells embedded in the structure, Coin showed them a protruding section of natural rock which felt faintly electric to the touch and had shallow indentations in the shape of the three keys, only smaller.
Considering their options, they realized that, since they had gone back in time, the original three keys might still be here, one of them (the one in the boat with the diving equipment) probably in this area. They searched the area and found it in a nook under the stage.
While they were talking about this, and what it could all mean, with Coin, the sleepy guard from the admissions stand suddenly got up and began to head towards Harvey. Mark and Sarah broke off to check this out, and noticed that the guard’s eyes were gone, revealing the smoldering orange plasma behind them. In the scuffle that followed, Mark clubbed the guard on the head with the key, which unaccountably tore open its skin like a melon rind and allowed all the gas to escape, leaving only an empty husk with no organs or skeleton.
Turning back to Coin Harvey, they found him laying on the ground clutching his chest and staring up at the sky, dead. Alarmed that they might have changed history by causing Coin’s death several years early, they considered trying to find some way to hide the fact that he had died. In the end, though, they just carried his body back to the house and laid it out on his bed. They took the opportunity to search the place, but didn’t find out much more than they already knew.
Remembering where the other keys had been in the future, they headed for the Oklahoma Row Hotel, the one with the tower full of cyborgs in the future. It turned out to be mostly abandoned, with a sign calling it the “Palace Art Gallery.” The manager let them in, explaining that there “used to be a gallery here in thirty years,” but there wasn’t now. He also showed them his walls covered with empty frames. It became apparent that he was either moving backward in time every morning, or was insane. Most likely both. The key was in the basement, so they collected it and moved on.
The neighboring hotel, the Missouri Row, was completely abandoned, without even a crazy art dealer from the future to maintain it. They found the room occupied by giant silverfish with with big eyes. After killing the bugs, they grabbed the key, set fire the building, and headed back towards the amphitheater. Partway there, they noticed several shapes like giant wasps rising out of the burning building.
Back at the amphitheater, after poking around a bit more, they eventually checked the foundation where Coin had planned to build the obelisk. There, they discovered a set of keyholes like the ones that had been on the future version of the crypt. Inserting the keys, they passed through another light show and found themselves in the same valley, but with no signs of human habitation whatsoever, not even the amphitheater. The completed obelisk, however, was now towering above them. Also, the keys came with them this time.