Ravens Cove – Chapter 21

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 21

Cassandra Martin stayed late at her beauty shop. “The Right Reverend Plotno must be serviced when he wants or my shop would be boycotted—jerk! Thank goodness you were finally satisfied, Reverend,” she whispered to herself, watching him stride up the street.

As she closed the door, she felt, rather than heard, a presence behind her.

She stiffened, hand still holding the key in the shop’s lock. “Turn, Cassie, turn.”

She knew this voice. “Miggie? The sheriff said you were dead.” She whirled around to see her friend, thought dead and now alive!

Cassie spun into a sight her mind could not accept. The face was blood red; the eyes were black, seeping purple. She caught her breath but too late. The stench caught in her throat, and she began
to throw up and couldn’t stop.

Miggie howled in laughter.

Cassandra dropped to her knees in front of him—still dry-heaving uncontrollably.

Miggie laughed louder when she started to sob.

My job is done here. He shot up, black and blood trailing behind him.

Kat and Ken turned onto Main Street. They walked side by side because he would not let her get ahead of him.

Give me some room—please! she thought.

They saw the body in front of the salon at the same time.

Ken took off in a full run.

Kat froze in place for a moment, shook herself and ran after him.

Ken dropped to his knees and checked Cassandra’s neck for a pulse.

Kat, breathing hard, caught up. She inhaled. The stench caught in her throat. She turned and dry-heaved.

Ken reached into his pocket and brought out a small, round travel jar. “Put some of this under your nose.”

For the first time Kat could remember, she did as she was told, then looked at the jar. “Cold salve?” she said. “Huh. I’ve never felt as grateful for this petroleum-based mentholated ointment
as I do now.”

The smell was still somewhat there; but the menthol overpowered it. She handed the jar back to Ken. “Thanks.”

He took the jar and smiled up at her.

Kat caught her breath. She could bask in its warmth for the rest of her life.

“She’s alive,” Ken said. “Sure threw up a lot, though.” He waived the Mentholatum under the woman’s nose to try and bring her back. “No smelling salts. This will do in a pinch.” He shook Cassandra.

Her eyes opened, and she screamed.

Ken took hold of both her shoulders and squeezed. “You’re safe, you’re safe,” he cooed as to a small child.

Cassandra’s glazed eyes focused on the handsome, dark-haired stranger. She screamed louder. “You’re going to kill me. You’re going to kill me!” She struggled.

Ken held Cassie steady to keep her from rolling in her own vomit.

“Cassie, stop!” Kat yelled.

Cassandra tilted her head backward, recognized Kat, and relaxed.

“What happened?” Kat asked.

“Miggie.” Cassandra trembled and began to sob.

“Yes, Miggie’s dead, Cassie.”

“No. He was here. He called my name. He looked so …” she began
to heave again at the memory.

Ken, still holding Cassie’s shoulders, watched as Kat fell to one knee and began smoothing Cassandra’s hair.

“Shhh. Take a deep breath, and tell me what happened.”

“It was Miggie, Kat, he came to see me. He looked horrible but the voice was Miggie’s. You know I know his voice, Kat.”

Kat nodded her head.

“They were an item.” She whispered to Ken over Cassie’s head.

Cassandra turned into Kat’s coat and wept.

“Ouch,” Ken mouthed back.

“You believe me, don’t you, Kat? Please tell me you believe me!” Cassie’s voice rose, afraid she was going crazy. Afraid Kat would think she was going crazy.

“I believe you believe it. I know how much you cared for him.” Kat had no idea why Cassie chose to love Miggie, but then there were many mysteries in the world.

Cassandra looked up at Kat, mascara streaming down her cheeks, mixing with her rose blush and ivory foundation. The combination looked like a bad watercolor.

“It’s the truth. God’s truth.” Cassandra’s voice trailed off. She stared into the darkness.

“We need to get her to a hospital,” Ken said.

Both Kat and Cassie whipped their heads to Ken, surprised.

“No! I’m fine. I just want to get home, take a hot bath and forget this ever happened … if forgetting is even possible.”

“I urge you to get a good once over by a doctor,” Ken answered.

“She says she’s fine,” Kat said. “I believe her. Here, take her keys, go into her shop and get her a glass of water. If she keeps it down, we’ll call her roommate, Caroline, to come over and get
her. If not, we’ll call Doctor Billings and have him come look her over. Agreed?”

Knowing he was outnumbered and would just waste valuable time by arguing, he took the keys.

When Cassandra kept the water down and sat up without assistance, Ken admitted she was okay.

He handed Kat his phone. She looked at him as if he were from another planet when he held out the cell.

“Look around you. How hard is it to get ahold of someone?” Kat spread her arms wide and turned, first toward North Main, then South Main, to emphasize her point. “I mean, how hard is it?”
Ken pointed to the phone.

Kat dialed.

Caroline arrived ten minutes later. “I’d have been here sooner, but it took five minutes to find my sweats.” Caroline guided Cassie to the car and whisked her away.

“I don’t know what is going on here, but one thing I know for sure is Cassie would never let anyone see her unless she is coiffed and dressed to the nines.”

“A hallucination,” Ken said, not as convincing as he would have liked. In the last twenty-four hours, he saw enough of the unexplainable to last him a lifetime. Still, hallucination was the most logical answer. Or some horrible joke played on Cassie.

Josiah passed the time by looking out the small jail window, pondering the smoky darkness gathering to the south.

“Old man.” A voice, no, two blended voices, came from within his cell.

Josiah’s spirit knew what he would see before he looked. “In your name, Jesus, hide me in your righteousness. Let this evil have no power over me. You have allowed them to come here. Show me why.”

Josiah turned, the straightness of his body, the heat in his eyes belying his age and the heaviness he carried with him always.

“What are your names? In the name of Jesus, I command you, answer.”

The twins thought Iconoclast to be their lone master. They were shocked when they had no choice but to answer this horrid little mortal.

“In life, we were called Joseph and Jonathan.”

“Your last name in life, what was it?” Josiah demanded.

The twins hesitated but could not stop from answering. They felt their power draining as they answered him. “Northan,” they said in unison, their voices merging to make a putrid, dripping noise.

The sound reminded Josiah of blood being let from a carcass to prepare the meat for packaging.

“How did you meet the demise of your physical bodies? Joseph answer!” he demanded.

The twins power lessened when not working and speaking together. Joseph felt the drain again. He felt pain. The light surrounding this puny man was blinding his already dead eyes.

“Iconoclast tricked us!”

“Your own greed tricked you!”

Jonathan stayed silent, unable to talk until commanded to do so. Terror flooded his being; an emotion he never felt in life. Now, the anguish he once inflicted on God’s innocent creatures was tearing at his non-existent flesh. He could feel each one he killed, the most recent of which was the strongest. He experienced the suffering of the ravens as their internal organs melted, and they bled to death. The pain was unbearable. He needed to run but could not.

Jesus, protect me. “Who is this Iconoclast?”

“Our commander. The one whose mission it is to destroy this insignificant horrible little town and its inhabitants. That’s who!” Joseph regained strength when he remembered why he came here.

“Enough of you now, Joseph Northan! Speak, Jonathan! Tell me the names of Iconoclast and his underlings. Name all you know!”

Jonathan and Joseph were ordered not to divulge any names. He would be punished if Iconoclast discovered he told this human. Jonathan worked to hold his tongue, to divest his thoughts of the
names but could not.

He blurted out, “Atramentous, Gambogian, Caitiff, Venenose, Bruit, Trepaner, Prevaricator and Profligacy. These are all I know. I swear!”

“Swear not in front of me. Be gone. Go back to your leader, and tell him I am here. He knows me. I await the battle.”

The twins flew up through the jail cell and dropped like meteors into the ravine.

Kat unlocked the door to the sheriff ’s office, the bell’s tinny ring much louder in the silent, deserted place.

Ken stepped through behind her. He caught his breath, then he covered his nose. “Do you smell something?”

Kat tapped the side of her nose, reminding Ken of the menthol treatment minutes earlier. “Not really.”

“Lucky you. This place smells like rotting meat. Did someone forget to put out the garbage? It’ll draw rats, you know.”

“The garbage was emptied earlier. And the most recent sighting of a rat in Ravens Cove was yesterday.” She turned innocent eyes upward to Ken. “Even BC could only take a chunk out of it, it was so big.”

Ken glared down into those cat-green eyes. He forced himself to turn away, before he just grabbed this woman and kissed her again.

“Katrina Agnes Tovslosky.”

They heard her name being called from the back, from the direction of the jail cell.

“Stop calling my full name! How do you know it anyway?” Kat’s voice trailed behind her as she headed for the cell. “Almost no one knows my middle name, especially some stranger to Ravens Cove!”


Kat scowled at Ken. “If you ever say my middle name again, you’ll wish BC had finished the job!” She marched forward.

“I’ll take my chances,” Ken answered.

Kat stopped in front of the bars, arms akimbo, turning an I can melt you by pure will alone, look on Josiah.

Josiah returned an open and fearless gaze.

Even through the Mentholatum, Kat now smelled the stench. It was emanating from the cell. She scrunched her nose, then relaxed it to try and hide the disgust.

Josiah smiled. “The smell is not me, Katrina. “I had a visitor…two visitors this evening.”

“They need to see Doc Billings,” was all Kat could think of to answer.

“Wouldn’t help, ma’am. They are far beyond any help mortals can offer.”

Ken walked up and stopped just behind Kat’s left shoulder, so close she could feel the warmth of his body.

“Who are beyond help, Mr. Williams?”

“Well the names they gave me, at least their names in life, are Joseph and Jonathan Northan. Twins I believe.”

“Jonathan and Joseph? How did they get in here? They are not our most model citizens. In fact, they are a violent couple of siblings. Are you hurt?”

“They could not hurt me, but thank you for asking.” Josiah’s smile disappeared. “They are dead.”

“Almost the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” Kat turned to Ken. “I saw them walking by my grandma’s home, heads together, conspiring something horrible I’m sure, as we were going to get her for church.”

They are dead, I assure you. They were sent to threaten me, no doubt, by their leader, named Iconoclast.”

“What did you say?” Ken and Kat spoke at the same time.

“Iconoclast. Do you know the name?”

Kat felt the hair rising on the back of her neck. Her grandmother just shared this name with Ken a few hours ago. Many knew the legend, but Grandma held the name close, as did her mother and grandmother before her. The unease in Kat’s stomach grew.

“Iconoclast. The demon sent to destroy this town and everyone who resides in it. Anyway, you will find their bodies at the top of Ravens Ravine, just as you did the others. Go see for yourself. But make sure the sheriff is with you, along with another member of the town, I would suggest Pastor Lucas. The evil is growing—it’s gained immense strength, and it is emanating from the ravine.”

“I can’t take a pastor to a crime scene!”

“Suit yourself, but you’d be far better off with him than without him. Come back to see me when you’re finished. I’ll be here.” Josiah laughed at his own joke.

“I will,” Ken answered. He wrenched his cell phone from his pocket and hit speed dial where he’d entered Bart’s number earlier in the day.

“Williams says there are more bodies. Something about being visited by ghost twins.”

“Where are you? And how did you talk to Williams?”

Kat heard “Williams” and “How” and covered the phone.

“He’s going to be really ticked I let you in the office without his knowledge,” she whispered to Ken.

“What do you want to do?” Ken mouthed back.

Kat took the phone. “Hey, Bart. Funny thing about this Williams, Bart, he knew the name of the thing only Grandma knows.”

“Ok? Still didn’t answer my question.”

Kat hurried on, “And he told us the Northan twins are dead. Said they visited him tonight.”

She rolled her eyes at Ken and circled her ear with her index finger several times, “Crazy,” she mouthed to Ken. “I told him I saw them this afternoon, but he insisted they are dead, lying at the top of the ravine just like the other two victims.”

“This had better not be one of your infamous jokes, Kat!”

“I would never joke about a suspected murder or anything else so horrible!”

“Right, well, I’m warning you just in case. I’ll meet you at the office.”

If this is true, Bart thought, the man must have an accomplice. It would have been easy enough to get the info to Williams via the glass and barred window above the cell. A written note would have done the trick. But how would he have known the twins’ names? No one in Ravens Cove carried much ID. Why bother? No one drove much; everyone knew everyone and everyone pretty much paid cash, except the tourists.

“I don’t know how, but I’m going to find out!” Bart said. He caught hold of his gun belt, cinching it in place. He grabbed his weapon, holstered it and headed for the door.

What met Bart stopped him in his tracks. Bart’s ruddy complexion drained to pale white.

“Sheriff.” A toothless chasm of a mouth gurgled his name. Richard Pantino bowed.

“I see you remember me. Good. Just want to say thanks for nothin.’ I made this town home. It was your job to protect my family! Where were you when my wife and small children were tortured, then murdered? Where?”

The guilt and shame of failing to rescue Dana Pantino and her children, the subsequent suicide of Richard Pantino, and his inability to protect the current residents of Ravens Cove poured in on Bart. Guilt and despair boiled to the surface.

“You’re a loser, always been a loser, always will be a loser, Bartholomew Andersen. And, Loser…” the ghost held up dripping, decaying fingers in an L, “your town is ours and you can’t do anything to stop it! Back off, loser, or you’ll wish you were dead before you ever meet your new boss!” Pantino struck like a rattlesnake and bit Bart’s arm with his demon teeth.

A black mist materialized beside Pantino. It twisted into a thin rope and dove into Bart’s arm.

Bart’s mouth opened wide in a silent, terrified scream. He couldn’t move or speak.

The ghoul launched through the roof, going for his next victim.

Bart found the presence of mind to slam the door. He slid down behind it, legs unable to hold him.

The horror of finding the Pantino children flooded Bart—the small, mutilated corpses. The oozing wounds on Dana Pantino’s corpse…her severed head.

He hid his eyes behind the palms of his hand and sobbed. “I am a loser, the biggest of them all.”

Bart began fingering his gun. He snapped it free from the holster, playing with the hilt. It was comforting. He pulled the gun from the holster, and stared down the barrel.

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