Ravens Cove, An Iconoclast Thriller
The Spiritual Battle for a Small Alaska Town
By Mary Ann Poll
America’s Lady of Supernatural Thrillers
A MAN ON A MISSION
Josiah Williams walked into the sun’s warmth and made his way through the crowd still gathered in twos, threes, and fours.
“They say the body looked like a rag doll!”
“…drained of blood, flat as a pancake!”
Josiah slowed his pace, listening more closely.
“Purple and black oozing from the eyes.”
The familiar pain of grief shot from his stomach to his heart. Tears spilled from Josiah’s eyes, down leathery cheeks.
“O God, no, not again,” he cried.
More bits and pieces of conversation bombarded his ears. Josiah became certain the destroyer of his own home, and his family so many years before, now resided here.
“Why here, O God? Why now?”
His strength waned. Josiah sat down on a bench. Behind the bench a sign read, “Cassie’s Salon.”
A 60-ish woman, just coiffed and smelling like salon chemicals, swept out of the salon’s glass and wood door.
“Cassie never says a bad word about anyone. What a lamb she is, Ransom!” the older woman said to a younger woman with cherry Kool-Aid colored hair.
“Yes. Although, sometimes I wonder why she’s so good and her life is such a wreck. Husband left her, estranged from her parents. Why would those kinds of relationship troubles happen to such a friendly and sweet person?”
“Don’t know. It is a shame.”
Both women continued down Main, their conversation melting into the loud buzz on the street.
Josiah knew all things were not as they seemed. “The hidden secrets destroy our souls,” he whispered. “Just look at me. Not so long ago, or maybe very long ago, I was a drinking,
laughing, jovial man who came home to a wife and children every night after relaxing at the local bar.”
“‘Nice fellow,’ all my drinking friends said of me.” He smirked.
“They did not know. I sure presented a kind persona to all who knew me. All but my own family, that is. With them, I became as mean-spirited and evil as I pretended to be pleasant and affable to my buddies.
“The day of my home’s destruction, I didn’t go home. Instead, I celebrated my big raise and flirted with Jane, the town’s most available young woman. An hour later, the Devil paid a visit to my small hometown.” Josiah wiped back the angry tears and stood up.
“What’s done is done.”
Convincing Pastor Lucas would not be easy. It is never easy to speak of the spiritual realm in concrete terms, Josiah thought. Been there, done that, bought the whole outfit. Josiah winced at the sad memory of one of his wife’s many sayings. I should know. Not very long ago my view of God and the spiritual world could be described as agnostic, at best.
“My advantage is knowledge. I know Lucas is already fighting a battle with evil clothing itself as light and a friend of God. But how do I convince him of this fact, Lord?”
Josiah walked up Main toward Birch and took in the small mom-and-pop shops of Ravens Cove.
There stood the all-important General Store, which sold everything from bolts to TVs. Through the window, he could see a food aisle on the left—better check the expiration date.
The library sat across the street, the largest and newest building he had seen so far. It sat at the town’s center amid dead-looking birch, mountain ash, and willow trees of late-autumn.
“Knowledge is a pride to this small town,” he mused. “I wonder if wisdom is as well.”
Next to the library, almost joined to it, stood the town hall, filling in the rest of the square. Only the library rivaled its ornate architecture. Two lions flanked either side of a large, arched doorway. Its grey concrete exterior made it oppressive.
Large, Greek-style planters sat in front of the lions, a few geraniums still fighting to maintain their scarlet colors, but losing the battle to the cold days and even colder nights. The crimson blooms underscored the coldness of the structure, giving it a most sinister look.
It’s not just the way the building looks, Josiah thought. It’s the way the place feels.
Josiah imagined how the green trees and beautiful flowers of spring and summer disguised the building’s oppressiveness.
But just as light throws truth on what lies in the shadows, the bareness of October exposed the structure’s personality. The building had a power of its own and dwarfed the larger structure to its right.
Josiah took his eyes off city hall and focused his attention on the rest of the street. People milled in front of the hardware store. He imagined it housed the essential odds and ends needed to keep a home or business in decent repair during the long winter to come.
A combined eatery and coffeeshop came next. The rich coffee aroma drifted back to Josiah on a light breeze as a customer opened the door, pulled on his coat, and started up Main.
Josiah shivered. The breeze chilled him, but his senses discerned something much more sinister in the air. His quickened his pace. Time is shorter than I first thought.
Josiah caught the unmistakable stench of iron and blood in the wind. A malicious snigger assaulted his mind’s ear. He made a quick turn to his right and froze. There, two storefronts ahead, a dark cloud oozed in a square mist from the minuscule area around the doorjamb of the blacked-out entry. The murky fog took form. It stood on two semitransparent limbs, like a man coming out from a crouch, and first walked, drifted, then walked again until it disappeared up Main.
Josiah looked at the sign over the door.
“Adults Only!” it shouted in bold, red lettering. Centered below the scarlet lettering in even larger writing the sign read, “The Trash Bin: Occult and New Age. Adult Entertainment Section.”
Josiah turned back to Main and followed the dark being up the street. Where it stopped first shocked, then sent a vibrating terror through him.
The fog hovered at the door of the Congregational Alliance Church—right beside a placard stating, “We love all of you! Those who believe are saved, no matter your lifestyle. Come, join us!”
Josiah slowed his pace to study the blackness crowding the church’s door. He watched as a mid-30s, red-haired, ruddy-skinned man walked through the foreboding shadow to unlock the church.
A wide grin replaced the grim, serious mouth in a flash. At the same time his neck rose, stiff, as if he looked down on this world, and no one knew better than he. He walked into the church.
“Is he lost, Lord?”
Josiah shrugged. “Not surprising. The answers are not at my command.” More often than not they came later rather than earlier in his missions.
Josiah started toward the long stairs to the church. He wanted to warn those inside of the destruction hanging over the place.
An unseen hand pushed on his chest, strong and gentle.
The command coursed through his heart. “No, Josiah. Today, this is not part of your battle.”
Josiah hesitated, and then turned, fighting with every thread of his being to obey.
For the third time in a day, tears welled up in his topaz-blue eyes, spilling in silence down his weathered, lined cheeks. Memories and emotions flooded his mind. He smelled the burning flesh, and saw the deformed bodies. He grasped his elbows in both hands, bent over and dry-heaved.
“Why, Lord, must I wait? You can make me invincible so I can kill the thing which has killed my heart. Why must I continue to live and not have vengeance?” Josiah’s foot hung midair, ready to stomp the concrete. He stopped short and stood like a pelican in the water.
“Too old,” he muttered. “Sure as life, I’d fracture something, and then who’d have a good laugh? An older body and a youthful mind are always in conflict.
“I know, Lord, vengeance is Thine,” he whispered, and bowed in reverence to God.
Josiah’s meeting with Pastor Lucas took on more urgency, and he quickened his pace.
Uniform, white homes with dark shutters replaced his view of the church building. “Little houses on the hillside,” he began to sing, remembering the old song about all houses being the same and made of ticky-tacky.
The town fell behind. The sidewalk ended, giving way to a rudimentary trail, full of dips and holes. He opted for a brush-covered, one-lane gravel road which looked less hazardous than the path. He observed several driveways going nowhere. They sliced into the thick brush,
and ended ten feet in.
“Abandoned hopes or hopes for the future?” he wondered aloud.
Even in late-autumn, the tenacious green grass pushed its way through dry, brown leaves. Where no sun warmed it, the surrounding vegetation bent low under the weight of the night’s frost.
“Did you send me on a wild-goose chase, Katrina?”
Josiah walked a bit farther. He spotted a small, dirty-white structure. He recognized it from his dreams—the dreams directing him to travel to Ravens Cove, so far from his home in what the locals here called the “Lower 48.” He proceeded up the paint-chipped wooden steps to a porch in similar disrepair. It looked to be about the same size, and from the same era, as most of the houses in Ravens Cove. What differentiated it from the others were the words over its door.
“Let all who enter here, enter to find salvation in the Truth, the Way and the Life, Jesus Christ.”
Josiah smiled, and said a silent prayer for God to go before him so he, Josiah, would speak God’s truth to this pastor, this shepherd for the Most High.