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
A SECRET WEAPON
The twins’ house was vacant. Lights were on and the door unlocked, as was the custom of Ravens Cove.
“Not here, but I’ll find them. You bet I’ll find them.” Bart stomped down the street in search of his quarry.
“Why don’t we go to the top of the ravine, just to humor me?” Ken asked.
Bart stopped. “Fine.” He made a quick left turn, power-walking up Main Street to the path skirting the ravine and the river, ending at the inlet.
He turned. “Kat, I don’t want you to come with us. Just in case. And, Pastor Lucas, I don’t want you to come, either.”
Paul stood his ground. “With all due respect, Sheriff, I know you don’t believe you were possessed. But you were. And from what I understand is happening here, you need more than guns to fight this adversary. You need God, and you need prayer. My specialty. So,
think of me as your secret weapon.”
“He helped us a lot with you, Bart, you can’t deny it,” Ken said.
“I don’t want to let anyone else get hurt—murdered for that matter! So, if you want the Pastor to come along, and if anything happens to him, it’s on you!” Bart turned. “Kat, I’m walking you to Grandma’s house. Now!”
“We go together,” Ken answered.
Kat took a step forward, then stopped. “Don’t get me wrong, guys, I’m grateful for the escort. But I’m finding it hard to make much progress because the two of you—she pointed to Bart, then
Ken— are holding my arms and Pastor Paul is walking on my heels.”
“Stop complaining,” Bart answered.
Kat sighed and started off again feeling like a toddler with mom and dad protecting her against a fall. She motioned to Grandma Bricken’s house with her right hand. “We’re here. Let me go.”
Ken, Bart and Paul watched her walk inside and waited until they heard the door lock click. They headed to the ravine.
Kat leaned on the door, both palms extended against it. I’ve never felt so suffocated by good intentions in my life.
When she heard their footsteps and voices fading, Kat pushed herself off the door, went into the kitchen, sat at the comforting table and began to pour out the evening’s events to Grandma Bricken.
All three men, almost up the hill to the hag tree, heard Trepaner’s scream—a death scream.
“Moose lost to a wolf, I’m sure,” Bart said, not instilling any confidence in himself or the others.
They continued up the rise.
It was a moonless night. The cloud cover ensured it.
Bart took the lead. He yelled when his foot hit a large substance and tripped.
Paul caught him before he went face down into the ravine.
Paul reached into his pocket. The jingle of keys preceded the flash of a small penlight which illuminated a foot.
Everything went dark again when the key ring plopped to the ground.
A bigger light replaced it. Bart scanned the flashlight up and down the obstacle he stumbled over.
“I guess I won’t be arresting the Northan twins after all.”
The two lay face-to-face, grinning into each other’s purple and black eye sockets. In this light, they looked to be one body with two faces.
Paul pointed to their eyes. “It’s the same junk I saw on your front porch.”
Bart ignored him, went for his gun, and came up empty-handed.
Ken took the cue and pulled his.
Bart shone the light all around the ravine, the dark swallowing anything beyond a few feet away.
They listened. No footsteps. In fact, nothing was moving, not even the trees.
“The guy couldn’t have gotten far,” Ken said.
“It’s not a guy,” Paul commented.
“You think it was a woman?” Bart asked.
“I mean whatever did this wasn’t human.”
“Okay. That’s it. Pastor Paul, I believe you have done all you can here. Why don’t you go home?”
A low, bone-chilling growl rose from the ravine. “Yes, leave, Man of God! You can do nothing here.”
Ken and Bart shivered from the sudden drop in temperature.
“On second thought, maybe you’d better stay,” Bart said.
“You remember what happened, don’t you, Sheriff?”
Bart nodded, the memories rushing back like a bad dream relived. “I had a nervous break.”
“No. You were possessed.”
“Who came to see you tonight?”
“Richard Pantino, a suicide victim.”
Ken snapped his head around to Bart. He opened his mouth to encourage Bart to go home and rest. He shut it again.
Bart watched Ken’s response. “Told you. Nervous break.”
“My first thought. But, since I can’t explain why you were a babbling lump on the floor one minute and fine the next, and since I can find no logical explanation for a badly bleeding wound which didn’t exist, or for the stinky, black mist which rose out of you right after we
prayed over you, I’m going to keep an open mind. Who is—was—Richard Pantino?”
Bart dropped his head and studied his feet. He looked at Ken.
“His family was my first big case after becoming sheriff. Pantino—or my hallucination of Pantino—rocketed me back in time.
“Richard called to report his wife, Dana, and children missing. I spent every day searching for clues to locate the family. Two weeks later, all three of them were found in shallow graves ten miles south of Ravens Cove. The children had been assaulted; the mother, too.
“Pantino hated the sight of me, and who could blame him? He tried to get me fired; when it didn’t work, he took every opportunity to remind me of the deaths. A year later, Richard blew his head off with a sawed-off shot gun.”
“We can’t win them all, you know,” Ken said, his tone empathetic not judgmental.
“I tell myself I’m not at fault. Never could convince myself, though. Anyway, the thing bit me; felt like a spider bite, but a hundred times more painful. Then I blacked out until I saw you three looking down on me.”
Paul nodded in understanding.
Ken’s eyes were wide as Frisbees, still wondering if his fellow officer had a mini breakdown.
Paul spoke. “We are in for a battle, gentlemen. Our town is under siege, Sheriff, but not by humans. This is spiritual warfare. I was wrong to doubt Josiah Williams; we need to go talk to him. He knows much about this thing. I believe God sent him here to help us.”
“He’s a suspect.”
“Did he come out of his cell and murder these twins, all by his lonesome?” Ken asked.
“Not helping, Melbourne,” Bart answered.
“Look, as crazy as it sounds, this spiritual warfare thing is beginning to have some credence. The facts aren’t adding up. Unless we factor in—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—the supernatural.
“All I witnessed with you tonight, not to mention the weird voice coming from the ravine, are giving this case a creepy, unearthly feel. Maybe in the light of day I’ll think myself foolish. Standing here in the eerie silence, I’m leaning toward Pastor Paul’s explanation.”
“Ok. Let’s say your theory is correct. What next?” Bart asked Ken.
“Haven’t a clue,” Ken answered.
“Maybe Josiah Williams has some answers,” Paul said. He started down the trail and stopped. “Where’s the light from?”
Ken and Bart turned toward Ravens Cove. Smoke drifted above the lights of the town.
“Something’s on fire!” Bart said. He sprinted toward town while punching numbers on his cell phone to alert the volunteer fire chief.