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
“You must go now, Katrina and Kenneth. Go now!”
Kat and Ken heard Josiah, as plain as if he were in the room with them, not closed in behind the door leading to his tiny cell. They both jumped up and ran back to the cell.
Josiah was holding onto the bars with white knuckles.
“To the sheriff ’s home. He’s in danger! Go now!”
Neither of them questioned Josiah. They knew Bart was late. They rushed from the jail, Kat leading the way up the street to a house kitty-corner from Pastor Lucas’ residence.
The lights were on. The door was shut. Kat jogged up the old wooden steps on the narrow, wood-planked covered deck, long ago painted grey. She slipped on something and started falling. Before she could even think to be scared, her head was going for a hard, concussion-producing, hit. She felt her arm yank upward right before her skull met the wood.
“Ouch!” She was sure her arm was dislocated.
Ken grabbed her and pulled her forward against him, somehow managing to get in front of her and the slick, purple-black, sulfur-smelling liquid oozing from the welcome mat at the door. He held her closer. Kat let him.
She smelled like vanilla and musk. The combination was heady. For a moment, Ken forgot where they were. In this moment, only she existed.
He fought for focus. He pulled back and looked down at the ooze standing atop the mat, and his mood changed. “This looks like the stuff I saw coming from Miggie Salisto’s eyes.”
He grabbed latex gloves from his jacket pocket along with a cotton-tipped swab and a jar.
Kat couldn’t believe what she saw. Talk about prepared.
“What else you got in your jacket, an autopsy kit? Bet you were a boy scout, huh?”
Ken crouched over the pungent gel. He looked up. “Eagle Scout.”
“Well that answers that.” Kat watched as he went to work on the goo she wouldn’t have gone near with a ten-foot pole, as her grandmother was fond of saying.
She knocked on Bart’s door, then tried the handle. The door was unlocked, but it wouldn’t budge.
“Bart? BART!” Kat’s voice rose in alarm.
Ken stood and tried the door. “The door’s jammed. Is there another way in?”
“Back door.” Kat started running.
Ken overtook her. If Bart was injured—or worse—dead, he wanted to get there before Kat did.
He made it to the door, opened it and entered. What he saw sent a cold chill up his spine.
Bart stared down the barrel of a .357 Magnum—seemingly transfixed by it.
Ken heard him muttering eerily, “Loser. Always was, always am, always will be, loser,” over and over again. The hair on Ken’s arms rose to attention.
“Bart,” Ken whispered, taking a step forward.
Kat slid in behind Ken, stopped just short of knocking him forward and then looked to the right of Ken’s bulk. Her cousin, her beloved macho cousin, sat in a heap on the floor, staring at a gun.
Kat gasped, a sob escaping her. She retreated behind Ken, leaned on him and tried to gather her thoughts.
“What do we do?” she whispered to Ken’s back.
Ken reached behind and gently touched her right arm. “Just breath. We’ll get through this, Kat.”
Kat relaxed in response to his touch and words. A loud knock on the door jarred her back to defense mode.
The noise didn’t faze Bart.
If he had jumped, Ken thought, it would be the end.
“Go find out who’s at the door, Kat.”
She wanted to protest but thought better of it. She slipped out the back, around the side of the house and looked over the deck banister.
Paul turned to her voice.
“What are you doing here? If you need the sheriff, I’ll get him to you as soon as I can. He’s not feeling well at the moment.”
“I believe the sheriff needs me, Ms. Tovslosky.”
“I don’t understand what you mean, Pastor.”
“I know you don’t agree with my beliefs. But right now, all I can tell you is I was on my way to bed when I felt an overwhelming urge to come here. Bart is in imminent danger, isn’t he?”
“As I said, he isn’t feeling very well.”
“Miss Tovslosky, you know it’s more, and so do I. Bart is under spiritual oppression, if not a possession. He is going to kill himself if we don’t help him.”
Kat stared at Paul. “What is going on in this town? People know things they shouldn’t. It’s like the whole place is bugged and the information is getting to you and Josiah Williams. Two of the most—sorry Pastor— unbelievable, if not just plain fanatical, people in Ravens Cove.”
“No offense taken, Kat. In answer to your question: God. God is working here.”
Kat searched Paul’s face. Seeing only earnestness in his eyes, she motioned Paul to the back of the house. “Come with me.”
“Has the sticky-stuff on the porch been there long?” he asked.
Paul nodded. “I’ve seen this liquid and its source in a vision. We are up against great evil.”
He removed his Bible from his coat and began praying. “The battle has begun, Jesus. I trust in the armor of God to surround us. Amen.”
Kat shook her head and led Paul into the house through the back door.
Ken stood right where Kat left him.
“He’s not aware of us,” he said as Kat tiptoed up beside him.
Tears filled Kat’s eyes to see her tough, strong, protector in this unrecognizable lump on the floor.
Pastor Lucas walked up beside Kat. “Peace to this house,” he said in a firm voice.
Bart stopped muttering, but continued to examine the barrel of his .357 Magnum.
The three of them created a human wall filling the large open doorway leading from Bart’s kitchen to his living room.
Ken shot a questioning look at the new arrival. He knew he should be surprised, but there had been so many strange events in the last two days, he didn’t give Lucas’s appearance more than a second thought.
Pastor Lucas opened a well-worn, leather-bound Bible and began to read.
Ken gave a resigned shrug. “Can’t hurt,” he whispered.
Paul closed the Bible with a snap. He straightened, resolute in a decision and walked forward.
Ken wanted to tackle the pastor, safety being his main concern. But he knew the situation could go from bad to worse if he did. He stood helpless and watched Paul stride over to Bart.
“Bartholomew Andersen, look at me.”
Bart sat motionless.
“In the name of Jesus, Bartholomew, look at me.”
Bart raised hollow, unseeing eyes in the direction of the voice.
Paul noticed a red stain on Bart’s flannel shirtsleeve. The stain was enlarging at an alarming rate.
“Do you want help, Bartholomew? Do you want me to help you?”
Bart’s eyes focused for a moment. He nodded before the glaze returned.
Paul motioned Ken and Kat forward.
They didn’t move.
“Come here, we must do this in agreement. If any of us is unwilling to call upon God to help Bart, we will fail.”
Ken watched Bart’s grip loosen on the gun. He took a chance and lunged forward, pushing Bart’s hands up with one arm and grabbing for the gun with the other.
Bart retightened his grip.
Paul cried out, “Jesus, in your name, help Ken.”
Ken felt a surge of strength. He pulled upward again.
Bart’s grip loosened but not before his finger found the trigger.
Ken pushed the gun toward the wall as it fired, just missing Ken’s face and grazing Bart’s.
The gun bounced once before it skidded to a halt half beneath Bart’s old brown couch.
“Too close for comfort,” Ken said, voice shaking, adrenaline and strength beyond Ken’s understanding still coursing through him.
Kat ran over and grabbed the gun. She tucked it behind her back. Kat returned to Ken’s side, truly relaxing for the first time since arriving. She looked at Bart’s arm, the blood turning a nasty brown, the arm swelling.
“We have to get him to the hospital.”
Paul shook his head. “A hospital won’t help unless we first deal with his soul. We must pray to bring him back. He might resist, but we must lay hands on him. Are you two willing to do it?”
Kat answered, “Not to be disrespectful, but to be honest, Pastor, I’m uneasy with this holy roller stuff. Gram tried to get me into it at a young age. I gave it a shot but didn’t really feel anything.
“I ended up believing the dancing in the aisles, laying on of hands, and speaking in tongues to be a result of group hysteria. Group conscience can be powerful. And now you are asking me to do something I think is fake.”
“I’m asking you to take a leap of faith,” Paul said.
“I’m not sure what’s going on in this crazy town with its weird happenings,” Ken said, “but I’m willing to give it a shot.” He put his hand on Bart.
Bart didn’t move.
Kat looked at Bart and whispered, “I’d do anything for you, you big lout.” She laid her right hand on Bart’s head.
Paul followed suit, putting one hand on Bart’s head and the other over the oozing wound.
“In the name of Jesus, Bartholomew Andersen, who attacked you?”
“Corpse Lights,” he whispered. His eyes flew open in remembrance of something horrible.
Paul looked at Kat and Ken for an explanation.
The light of recognition dawned in Kat’s eyes. Another legend. For Pete’s sake, do they ever end? Look what superstition did to you, Cous. Then again, the psychology of the human mind is complex. I’ll play along.
“Corpse Light is an ethereal ball of light—ghost as some might say. In the story, it is described as a lost or wandering soul, denied entry into both heaven and hell. It wanders the night and tries to lure people to their destruction. I have no idea why he made it plural;
and I have no idea why it came out of his mouth.”
Kat’s eyes fell on her beloved cousin. She fought back the tears threatening to fall since seeing Bart moments before.
Who did you see, Bart? Who did this to you? Was it those stupid twins? They’ll wish they hadn’t been born! she thought.
As if reading her mind and feelings, Paul put a hand over hers.
Kat calmed and focused.
Paul moved close to Bart. “Bart, you have been attacked; you were attacked by a force which is not physical.”
Bart nodded in agreement.
“Bart, you are not crazy. Jesus is here to work through us to bring you back.”
The name of Jesus brought a sudden flicker to Bart’s empty eyes.
Paul took his hand off Kat’s and placed it back on Bart’s head. He closed his eyes and bent his head.
Kat and Ken did the same.
“Spirit what is your name? In the name of Jesus, I command you answer.”
Bart lifted his head in defiance but stayed silent.
Paul stared into Bart’s empty, black irises. “Again, I command you in the name of Jesus to answer!”
An eerie, malicious grin covered Bart’s face. He tried to struggle but couldn’t move.
The wound spurted tar-colored fluid.
Bart’s mouth opened but a foreign, high screech of a voice came from his lips. “What does a name matter?”
“Trepaner,” it sneered. “Stupid man, I am Trepaner!” The words gurgled through Bart’s clenched teeth. He spat at Paul.
“Be still—Now!” Paul commanded.
A deep growl answered Paul.
“Enough! The Lord Jesus Christ rebuke you, Trepaner. Come out of this man, in Jesus’ name!”
An ebony mist, smelling of rotted flesh and excrement, rose from Bart’s chest.
Kat inched backward.
“Stand your ground!” Paul told her.
Kat willed herself to move forward again.
“What kind of sickness does he have?” Ken whispered.
“It is no sickness of man. That is a demon,” Paul answered, then focused on Trepaner.
“Be gone! Go back to your master and tell him the battle is lost. Jesus will not allow him to take this man or this town.”
“We’ll see, stupid mortal, we’ll see. This is my master’s domain. It is not yours!”
“This earth was given to man, not to you and your master! God has written it, and so it is true! Be gone!”
Trepaner screeched and rocketed upward, out through the roof and back to the ravine.
Unable to rebel against the command of this man of God, he said to Iconoclast, “The man of God says you will lose.”
Iconoclast’s roar could be heard from the center of the earth to the heavens. He gathered Trepaner in his paw, rolled the black mist into a ball and threw him through the earth’s crust into the spirit world of hell.
“How dare this stupid messenger of the Holy One threaten me! I will destroy him, and all he loves, first!”
Iconoclast turned his back to his captains to hide the worry etched in his brow. Though he wouldn’t admit it to his underlings, Iconoclast realized he was up against more than he’d thought. For a moment he felt a little of the fear he caused so many over the centuries.
Bart’s eyes focused on Kat, then Ken and Paul.
“What are you doing here?” he growled.
He looked around and saw where he was. “What am I doing on the floor?”
Kat smiled, relief pouring over her like a wave.
“Wipe the grin off your face, KittyKat,” Bart said.
“You’re a big bonehead, Bartholomew Nelson Andersen!” She grinned wider.
Bart’s expression said it all. “I’ll let you get away with using my middle name—this once. I feel kind of puny.”
“We need to get you to the hospital,” Kat answered.
“Why? I don’t feel that bad.”
“Your arm is injured, Bart. Do you remember how it happened?” she asked.
Bart glanced at his arm and saw the stain on the flannel sleeve. Puzzled, Bart said, “For the life of me, I don’t know how I got this grease on my shirt.”
“Your arm, Bart. Look at your arm!”
Bart rolled up the sleeve. “This does not look like a hospital issue. Don’t you think you’re overreacting?”
Kat followed Bart’s eyes. She cocked her head to the left and squinted, afraid of what horrible injury lay beneath the fabric. Her eyes popped open. She saw red streaks, outlining a dark purple oval. As Kat watched, the purple and red started to be disappear.
“What the …? Your wound was much more serious. I know it was.”
“You need sleep KittyKat, or maybe glasses,” Bart said.
“I’m not the one on the floor in a heap!” she quipped.
“Can you tell us what happened?” asked Ken.
Bart thought, his mood darkened. A look of fear flickered across his features. “Suffice it to say those Northan twins are going to see a jail cell, and soon.”
Bart stood, a bit unsteady but regaining his strength with each breath.
“Well, we need to see if you can arrest those twins or if they are beyond your help at this point,” Ken said.
“They have to be around; at least one of them was here! Looking ghastly but here! After I arrest them, I’ll have a word with our prime suspect. He can tell us who his accomplice is. I want this finished once and for all.” Bart stormed out.
Kat watched him disappear into the night. “He shouldn’t be alone.” She dashed after him.
Ken said, “I’m not leaving her alone, coming Lucas?”
“Lead the way.”
They caught up with Kat and headed for the Northan place.