Ravens Cove – Chapter 14

Ravens Cove, An Iconoclast Thriller (Book 1)

The Spiritual Battle for a Small Alaska Town
By Mary Ann Poll
America’s Lady of Supernatural Thrillers

Chapter 14


Paul Lucas fell to his knees in prayer when he heard of Miggie Salisto’s death. “I never condoned Miggie’s business. But, O God, I agonized over the eternal fate awaiting him. Now it is too late. And I grieve for another one lost to deceit.

“Why do you allow the Congregational Alliance to exist? It approves of its members practicing the black arts and peddling pornography which is directly against your teachings. How, O God, can you let it continue?”

The door opened and Paul turned. His heart sank.

“We must talk, Pastor Lucas.”

Paul examined the deep lines creasing Josiah’s face. Shock flooded Paul. The deep contours evidenced a burden on this man Paul missed—no ignored—the day before.

“Forgive me, Lord.” Paul whispered. “What can I do for you, Mr. . . .?”

“Josiah Williams,” he hurried on, “please hear me out before you cast me from your church as a crazy old man. I have not always been the way I am now.”

Paul motioned for Josiah to sit beside him on one of the folding chairs, serving as pews for his church.

“First, I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I did not believe until a few years ago. I lived what I thought to be a wonderful life, complete with a beautiful wife and two beautiful children. I did not spend much time at home. I traveled for work, and when in town I patronized the local bar, most nights until it closed. My friends were my drinking buddies.”

“Where is your family, now, Mr. Williams? Why are you in Ravens Cove without them?”

“They are dead, Pastor. Have been for over ten years. And it is my fault.”

Alarm bells sounded in Paul’s head. Is this the murderer making a confession? He prayed for guidance and help.

“How is it your fault, Josiah?” Paul placed a shaky hand over the man’s brown, wrinkled one.

“I did not protect them. They were murdered while I whooped it up at my favorite bar. You see, a great evil took over my town. A place not much bigger than Ravens Cove. They were victims of said evil. In my wife’s most dire time, I failed her. Can you imagine her terror and heartbreak in those final moments?”

“I can. I do.”

“If I were there, I might have stopped it. They might still be alive. I killed them, sure as life.”

Relief flooded Paul. Guilt-ridden and a little off, maybe, but not a serial killer. Grief can drive a person to the brink of insanity. I’ve seen it many times.

“My heart breaks for you. And I am amazed you are a believer now after such a horror happening in your life. Many run from God at those times, yet you turned to Him. Why?”

“Mostly by God’s intervention. In addition, I have an ability to see things, things no one else can. So, once I was ready to accept Jesus as my Lord, it was an easy leap to believe in what others do not see. Do you understand?”


“As a child, I played with imaginary friends. As I grew older, these specters did not leave, and I realized no one else could see them. Then, the dreams came. Dreams and visions which came true. I tried to talk to my parents. They threatened me with a mental hospital. I learned to be quiet to avoid being labeled as a crazy.”

No kidding, thought Paul. He knew at times it took great effort to just listen and not judge. Abba Father, help me to help this man.

Josiah stopped talking and searched Paul’s eyes. “Thank you for trying to be open, Pastor Lucas. This is hard for anyone to understand, most of all me.”

Paul said nothing.

Josiah continued, “The older I got the more I turned to anything to make these visions leave. I tried drugs as a teenager, but they made the images worse. I started to sneak alcohol and found some relief. So, I hid in the bottle more and more. And in my cups is where I could be found on the night The Thing murdered my family and most of my town.”

“The Thing?”

“I don’t have a name for it. But it is a strong servant of the Evil Foe. From what I’ve discovered, it moves around the earth. After destroying one town, it goes on to another of its appointed places.

“Ten years ago, a believing minister and his congregation threw it out of my small town. The tide turned in the battle when several people of the town chose to believe the minister and joined him in the battle. I believed the nightmare to be over.” Josiah wiped his forehead with a handkerchief.

“Please go on,” Paul said.

“Five years ago, it destroyed a small town in China. The Chinese government attributed it to a mining accident. Since such accidents are common in China, it made for good cover. But the odd thing is these ‘miners,’ which included women and children, all died within a five-day period. And though the government said they weren’t found for days—its explanation for the extreme decomposition of the bodies—a family member reportedly spoke with one of the victims a day before the discovery. I realized I made a mistake by believing this thing to be destroyed.

“I could not go to China, but I still saw the destruction taking place in my dreams and morning prayers. This is a horrible affliction! Our God knows why I have the gift of dreams and visions.”

“So, you think this thing is here? Why here, Mr. Williams?” Paul asked.

“I don’t have the answer, Pastor. I didn’t even know why I felt compelled to come to Ravens Cove until I arrived. I have dreamed of this place. I have seen your church in my sleep. And I felt the dread I experienced before.

“I could not stay away, and now I will not leave. I can’t stand by knowing what will happen as The Thing works in secret to destroy Ravens Cove. I must try to help!” Josiah’s voice rose well above its natural calm.

Alarmed, and in an attempt to placate the hysteria Paul thought he perceived, he again placed a hand on Josiah’s. “What can I do to help you find peace?”

“This evil one will not stop until it destroys every person in Ravens Cove. Its mission is to murder believers, at the hand of unbelievers, and take as many souls as possible before they can reach the Lord.”

Josiah paused. The blackened door of the Congregational Alliance swam into his mind’s eye.

“Ravens Cove is ripe for the picking, Pastor. There is a wickedness here, and it’s been a festering boil in this town for many years.

“I say this because there is a black spirit covering the Congregational Alliance and—for all its outward piety— it is a magnet, a draw of power for this entity. Otherwise, the black mist would not be there.”

Paul weighed the plausibility of Josiah’s statement. It would explain the loathing spewed at him from, and on behalf of, Martin Plotno since the day Paul arrived in Ravens Cove.

Paul remembered praying and praying for reconciliation, and to be shown his sin which caused such a—he did not want to even think it—hatred toward him. His lamented at how his small church lost more than a few people because of the lies perpetrated by the parishioners and the head of the Congregational Alliance.

“I can allow that Plotno is misguided. But evil? That’s a harsh word.”

“I know this is hard to believe, Pastor. I know. I have seen the destruction firsthand and still must pray to believe what cannot be proved by cold, hard facts. I would much rather forget it and move on with my life. But I cannot.

“Since I arrived, I have seen the signs pointing to The Thing being here. If you are unable to believe there is a malevolent being protecting The Congregational Alliance, then the first victim may convince you.

“This Thing sucks the soul and blood from its victims. The body shows signs of advanced decay. The bones are pulp, the eye sockets are empty. There is no skin. The muscles are red but mushy. The stench is one of a corpse long dead.” Josiah took a breath.

“There is one unmistakable sign confirming these are not murders at human hands, and it is The Thing we are up against. Once the eyes are cleared, as will be done in an autopsy, there will be a pinprick through the back of each socket. The brains of the victim were sucked out through those pricks. There is nothing left.”

Paul felt he made a hasty decision on this man’s innocence. If this turned out to be true, this man must be involved. “How would I back up these facts, Mr. Williams?”

“Go to the sheriff; tell him what I have said. He can confirm the state of the corpse.”

“Why don’t you go to the sheriff, Mr. Williams?” Paul knew the answer. Josiah would be arrested on the spot. If not convicted of the murders, he’d surely be sent to the closest psych ward.

Josiah rose to leave. “He will hear you better than me. We’ll speak soon.”

Paul did not look forward to another of these conversations. He did, however, look forward to talking to Bart Andersen.

Josiah all but gave him permission to relate their conversation to the sheriff, and he would. As soon as he felt enough time passed, Paul jogged to the station.

The bell swung in a wild back and forth motion from the force of Paul’s entrance.

Kat jumped at the noise.

The phones and steady questions from the townspeople having all but stopped, she could, for once, focus on the second paragraph of the report on Miggie. Her shoulders slumped at the frustration she felt once again.
Kat straightened and turned toward the counter. Pastor Paul Lucas, white as a sheet and out of breath, stood silent.

He has to be one of the politest people in Ravens Cove, contrary to
all the rumors, Kat thought.

“Hi, Paul. What brings you here today?”

“Need to see Bart,” Paul said in between gasps for breath.

“Busy. Second body in two days.”

“I believe I have information about the murders, Ms. Tovslosky.”

Kat looked at him. “I’ll get the Sheriff. Sit down and catch your breath. Want some water?”

“Thank you. Water would be great.”

Sheriff Bart had closed his normally open door in an effort to ward off any visitors or unnecessary phone calls.

Kat knocked. No answer. Kat cracked the door and looked at Bart. She heard him saying, “Sulfur is a main component in the goo coming out the eyes …”

Kat did a fake-cough.

Bart stopped, raised his head and glared. “What is it?”

Kat ignored the angry tone. “Pastor Lucas is here. Says he has information about the case. Where do you want him?

“Amos still occupies the coffee/interview room. He’s writing out a statement of what he saw, and anything he could think of to clear him of being the prime suspect.”

“Guess he realized solving these murders took precedence over his fishing routine, especially when I said, ‘You are a ‘person of interest,’” Bart answered.

“Seems so. Now, where do I put Pastor Lucas?”

“Give me a minute to get ready, and then bring him in here.”

Kat ushered Paul in, the door whispered to a close behind him. She glanced quickly through the glass pane.

Whatever Paul said made Bart study the medical examiner’s report. He looked back at Paul. Fifteen minutes later, Bart and Ken thanked Paul and followed him out the door.
Bart hesitated and turned around. “Back in a bit. Tell Amos he can leave when his statement is complete. Think we have a better suspect.”

“A better suspect? Do I know . . .” The bell chimed and the door closed, leaving her in midsentence.

“Where do you think we can find this Josiah Williams?” Ken asked.

“Well, as there is just one place to stay in town, I think we’ll start there. If we don’t find him there, we’ll find him soon enough. Gotta love a small town. The man can’t get far without someone seeing him and happily sharing his whereabouts.”

Ken smiled. Any upside to this place would do. If you counted the beautiful Ms. Tovslosky, and he did, then there were two upsides to Ravens Cove.

Mary Ann Poll, America’s Lady of Supernatural Thrillers, is the award-winning author of the Iconoclast series. Mary Ann draws from her real-life experiences, as well as her imagination, to create supernatural thrillers