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
Kat watched Bart and Ken escort Josiah into the office. She shivered. This man knows my name, and he may be the killer!
Bart led Josiah into the coffee room, but purposely didn’t offer him anything to drink. Better make him as uncomfortable as possible from the start.
“Mr. Williams, can you tell me what brings you to our small town… at an odd time of year, I might add?” Bart asked.
The cryptic and calm reply did not answer the question.
“What kind of business, Mr. Williams?”
Here we go. Josiah braced himself for the ridicule, the look stating, “Crazy as a loon.” Well, I can only blame myself. I talked to Paul Lucas to both enlist his help and in hopes he would bring me to the attention of the sheriff. It worked.
Josiah let out a sigh. “God’s business.”
The crazy-as-my-Aunt-Millie look settled over Bart’s eyes. Bart’s eyebrows raised. “God’s business? Please explain to us,” he motioned to include Ken, “what is so important in the isolated and small town of Ravens Cove to cause God to send you here?”
Josiah looked to the man leaning against the wall at the front of the room semi guarding the door and analyzing Josiah’s every move.
Not as much disbelief from the Sheriff as there is in this one, Josiah noted.
Ken continued to study Josiah. He doubted the quiet, unassuming, not to mention old, man before him could be capable of committing these horrific and gory killings.
Still, the superhuman strength some murderers possessed amazed him. He remembered one case in which a 5-foot, 100-pound woman, lugged a corpse to the edge of a cliff and rolled it down. She had been a bodybuilder. Her strength doubled by adrenaline. When it came to getting rid of a body, people could accomplish Herculean feats, impossible under normal circumstances.
But, how did he speed up the rate of decomposition?
Ken straightened. “Yes, we’d be interested to know why God would send you here,” he said.
“I don’t ask questions, sir. I go where the Lord directs.”
This is like pulling a king salmon from the river right as it comes in from the ocean, Bart thought. Maybe we will get more if Ken and I team up. At least shake him up a little.
Bart motioned Ken to join them at the table.
Ken strode forward and stood across from Josiah.
“It has come to my attention, Mr. Williams, you have much knowledge about the murders occurring in this small town.”
Yes, Paul came to see the Sheriff. This is good.
“Yes, I do.”
“Then, you can see why you have become a person of interest, and in all honesty, our main suspect in this investigation?”
“OK. Please explain why you have detailed knowledge of the murders, when even the newspapers have not reported on some of the facts you shared with Pastor Lucas.”
Josiah sighed, then prayed, Lord, guide me. Give me words to convince these people of my truthfulness. In your name Jesus, I pray for truth now. Amen.
“I have seen this before, in my own town, ten years back. I researched it and found the same thing which happened in my town happened in China five years ago. Those details were harder to confirm because the Chinese government did its best to keep the facts out of the
“God did instruct me, through much prayer and meditation, to come to Ravens Cove. I did not know why until I arrived.”
Bart and Ken turned cold, unbelieving eyes to Josiah.
How many times, O God, must I relive the horror of losing my family? How many times must I share these most intimate and painful memories with strangers?
Josiah fought back the tears. In a strangled voice, he continued, “I’m sure Pastor Lucas told you my story, as much as I shared with him anyway.”
“I’d like to hear it from you,” Bart answered.
“As I told Pastor Lucas, my family, along with 90 percent of my hometown, became murder victims. What I did not tell the Pastor is some of the deaths were attributed to others in the community; people who were never violent in their lives.
“The initial deaths were just as you have seen with your first two victims. The deaths at the hands of the townspeople came after.
“The odd thing, though, no matter how the person died, the deaths had one common thread—A pinpoint hole in each eye socket, and the brains were gone. Even if they were shot, hatcheted, bludgeoned or remained intact otherwise, they had no brains.
“The police allowed me to look at the crime scene photographs. The first time they hoped to shock me into a confession. The second at my request after I’d been cleared of charges.
“My babies’ brains were missing; my beautiful wife’s robin’s-egg blue eyes were missing. But neither my wife nor my children had purple and black seeping from their eye sockets. And she and the babies were found, each baby curled against her as if sleeping. No horror on their faces; in fact, I saw a peace I never understood.” Josiah dropped his eyes, studying the fine lines on the back of his hands, willing away the tears.
Bart cleared his throat.
“I apologize. I’ll continue.
“I have not seen these bodies firsthand in Ravens Cove. But I could not help but overhear the townspeople gathered on Main Street when I came into town. Parts of those conversations confirmed my assumptions.”
“Maybe I could believe this,” Ken replied, “if you reported only what you heard through the rumor mill. But you have information only the killer knows.”
Kat leaned toward the coffee room in hopes of overhearing the conversation. Darn! Can’t hear a thing.
She grabbed Arnie’s incident report and walked to the copier just outside of the room.
“Agent Melbourne, I am not a murderer. Well, I am one by neglect. I should have been protecting my family against the evil which overtook my home. Instead I drank with my buddies while the mayor of our small town obtained entry into my home and proceeded to shoot my
wife and two children and then turn the gun on himself.”
“Likely story,” Kat muttered, and then threw her hand over her mouth, hoping Bart did not hear her.
Josiah, knowing Kat could hear him, and hoping he could touch her spirit with his words, continued, “If this is what I believe it is, there will be at least two more deaths. One tonight and another the night after.”
“Not on my watch!” Bart said.
Josiah turned patient and unbelieving eyes to Bart. “I’m afraid so, Sheriff. You can’t control this. It is not a man doing these killings. At least not yet. This is the work of a spirit.
“It has various places it claims as its dominion on this earth. If anything has been built on its ‘home,’ as it were, during its time away, then it becomes a feeding ground. If not, he checks all his various domains until he finds a feeding ground.
“From what I can tell, going back through as much history as I have, this entity and others like it claimed many areas on this earth. It visited Ravens Cove at a time coinciding with Captain Cook’s voyage to Alaska in 1778. If I’m not mistaken, there is a legend confirming this.”
“Don’t start on the old myth, Mr. Williams! Every time something unexplainable occurs in Ravens Cove, the legend is blamed. It is a local tale, a story to stop children from wandering too far from their homes. Nothing more!”
“Not true,” Josiah answered.
Bart leaned forward, a red tint rising up his neck to his cheeks. “How dare you . . .”
Josiah held up his hand. “I will speak of it no more for now.”
Josiah continued, “As I said, this thing has numerous areas on this earth it considers home. And Ravens Cove, although uninhabited land for many years, is now settled and thus a prime hunting ground.
“There is much going on which invited this thing to stay and destroy. There are members of your community who worship it and its type. Their flagrant hatred contradicts all God considers good and is the bait, for lack of a better term. Their acts grow more brazen every day. At the right time, these people, these ones you have known well and accepted as family in this town, will turn on you. They will do all they can to destroy the true believers and then burn the town to
“If what you say is true, then this Thing is not logical at all,” said Ken. “Ravens Cove is tiny. I could see it somewhere like, say, New York, where the population is staggering.”
“It has assigned dwelling places. It has no authority anywhere else. So, it destroys all it can when it can. And as it destroys, it grows stronger. There is enough here to satisfy its quest for power and authority. One soul is a great loss to God. It relishes this prize above all else.”
“Are you trying to tell us the Devil is here in Ravens Cove? Because if you are, Mr. Williams, please note you are on shaky ground! I’ve had about enough of these crazy ramblings!”
“Not the Devil, but one of his most valued servants. One who grew more powerful over the centuries from destroying out-of-the-way, unknown towns and villages. One who knows how to stay under the radar, as it were. Evil works in secret; once exposed to the light of truth it loses its power.”
“Well, I’m going to take this opportunity to exercise my power, Mr. Williams. I believe you have given me enough probable cause to keep you here for at least twenty-four hours. And I’m going to do just that. This trumped-up story—which is what it is sir—has just won you a free night in the town jail. And, even if I wouldn’t have held you before, the threat more will die tonight, makes it my bound duty to keep you here.”
Josiah shrugged, then looked Bart in the eye. “Do what you must. It will not stop the murders from occurring. Unless you listen to me, they will happen. As sure as the moon will rise tonight, they will happen.”
“Well, I’m doing my part to make sure they don’t.” Bart motioned Josiah to stand and ushered him to the little-used cell in the back of the station.
Bruit, Iconoclast’s lookout, listened to the entire interrogation. He scurried from the room, headed to tell his boss of Josiah’s humiliation and incarceration.
Short in height, a more solid form than Atramentous and Venenose, his darkness projected a small shadow as he ran into a sunbeam peeking through the otherwise grey sky. He growled. Light revealed his true form, and it sapped his strength. Winded by the brief encounter, he
Kat turned her head. She examined the wall below Bart’s office window, looking for the child-size shadow she saw flit past the corner of her eye. Nothing there.
“Great, all the crazy talk has me seeing things.” She looked toward the window facing Main to revel in the sunbeam brightening the otherwise dark day.
The inactivity on Main Street disconcerted her. Ravens Cove had been abuzz the last evening. Today, it felt like a blanket of invisible snow fell and insulated the town’s normal noises. Footsteps and closing doors seemed muffled. She couldn’t hear the birds.
“You okay?” Ken asked.
“Fine, thanks, FBI.” She turned back to her copying.
You are one cold fish. How could such a warm and inviting-looking young woman be so full of frost? Sad, he thought, then smiled.
“Don’t suppose you’d like to get some dinner later? We could have some fun before I leave for Anchorage.”
Kat narrowed her eyes. “Not happening, FBI!”
Ken shrugged and turned his attention to solving the murders. This legend may be the key, he thought. Bart snapped shut like a clamshell when Ken asked. He mulled over the possibility Kat might have some answers. He decided against asking. He did not need to court any further rejection from the Ice Queen. Ken headed to the next most logical source—the library.
A cold wind blew in from the north as he stepped into sunshine fighting its way through the low-hanging clouds. It gave no warmth. He yanked his jacket collar up and around his neck to ward off the bitter chill.
The cold emphasized the spooky quiet on Main Street. Ken’s survival instinct rose to full alert. He scanned the street, all directions, and saw nothing looking the least bit menacing.
“Get ahold of yourself, man,” he muttered.
A passerby looked at him and walked just a little faster.
Great, now I’m talking to myself and scaring the fine citizens of Ravens Cove. Hope my self-conversing doesn’t make it to the grapevine. If anything could set a town afire, it’s rumor and speculation about a stranger, second only to rumor and speculation on a well-known member
of the community.
He arrived at the library, walked up the grey, cold steps. Not a welcoming exterior.
Ken’s library memories were warm ones. He loved the buildings, large or small; he loved the smell of books and seeing walls and rooms lined with bookshelves. This one, however, felt as cold as a butcher’s walk-in refrigerator.
He stepped in and strode to the counter. An acne-plagued teenager squinted at a rather new-looking computer screen. No other customers waited at the counter, but this fact didn’t stop the teen from ignoring all of Ken’s 6-foot-some-odd structure.
Ken looked at a sign.
“Please ring bell for service. Someone will be with you shortly.”
They are kidding, right?
Ken cleared his throat. No response. He drummed on the counter. No response. He rang the bell.
The young man finished typing into the hidden memory box, straightened and turned to Ken.
Unbelievable. This kid would have been tarred and feathered in LA.
“Can I help you?”
“I hope so Mr.?”
“Gary, just Gary.”
Ken nodded. “Ok, Gary. Where’s the section on Ravens Cove history?”
Gary graced Ken with a blank stare, blinking several times in an effort to return from byte land.
Anytime now, Partner.
“Umm, Ms. Conner, where’s the stuff on Ravens Cove?” he asked the empty foyer.
Ken looked around. He and Gary appeared to be the only occupants of the building.
A trim, attractive woman stood up from behind the counter. She held several large periodicals. Scowling at the intruder, she dropped the periodicals on the desk behind the counter and pointed to Ken’s left.
“Next room, second aisle from the windows, bottom shelf, but there’s not much there. Ravens Cove is a pretty boring little town.” She forced a smile at Ken, not covering her irritation at all.
“And your name is?” Ken asked.
“Thank you, Ms. Connor.” The salutation came out with as much ease as the smile came over Anita’s face.
“Welcome.” Anita dropped to the floor behind the counter.
Right where she said it would be. And just as she said, not a wealth of information on the topic of Ravens Cove. Ken wondered if this town existed at all. Maybe, just maybe, he would wake to discover he was in a dream. In just a day, he felt like he jumped down the rabbit hole and entered Alice’s Wonderland. He stifled the desire to pinch himself.
Ken stood up and walked back to the counter. He rang the bell without hesitation and started speaking before the teen looked him in the eye. “Not there. Is there anything on legends or myths of Ravens Cove and its surrounding areas?”
Anita popped up. She didn’t like the stranger asking this particular question, but she couldn’t pinpoint why. He’s attractive and polite, so why is he such an irritation? “Most of our legends are word of mouth, Mr. …?”
“Melbourne.” He felt an unexplained repulsion at the thought of shaking her hand, so he left his arm at his side. “Is there anyone I could speak to about the legends?”
Anita stood silent for a moment, trying to decide how she could avoid answering. She couldn’t.
“Grandma Bricken would be your best choice. She is the expert.”
Gary shot an alarmed look sideways to Anita, still pretending to be staring at the screen.
Anita ignored it and hoped this intruder missed it.
He didn’t. But never daunted by a challenge, which it sounded like this Grandma Bricken could be, he didn’t let on. “Do you know where I can find her?”
“The new church, helping the guy who runs it do whatever he does when he’s not pretending to be a pastor.” Her venom was palpable.
Feeling he had worn out his dubious welcome, Ken thanked Anita and Gary, turned and headed out to find Grandma Bricken.
“What a yucky man!” Anita said, turning back to the task at hand.
Gary stopped himself before saying, “I thought the guy seemed okay,” and instead went back to his typing, knowing better than to challenge Anita and raise her temper.
Her ire knew no bounds, including physical, and he could not afford to take her punishment. He’d learned the hard lesson the first time. And he needed this job or his mom, dad and siblings couldn’t survive in Ravens Cove.
Gary typed with focused intent, willing himself to ignore her searching eyes. He let out a silent breath when Anita Connor returned to her task.