Ravens Cove – Chapter 26

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 26

Reverend Plotno stood outside his beloved domain, smiling with satisfaction while he watched the firelight illuminating the dark sky. To him, the smoke smelled like a pleasant cologne. His smile widened. “Goodbye to you Paul Lucas, and to your insignificant church! Goodbye.”

He clapped as if applauding an outstanding performance before turning and marching into the Congregational Alliance to light incense and praise the guardians for his victory.

His obligatory thanks given, the Right Reverend Plotno stood once again on the steps of his small kingdom, overlooking the destruction of Paul Lucas’s church. The odor of burnt wood drifted to his nostrils. He sighed in satisfaction.

So close behind him it might as well have been one with the Reverend, stood Atramentous, who grew even darker and stronger with the destruction of the tiny house of worship. He, too, smiled.

Anita jogged up the steps, breathless from the excitement of the night’s events. “Isn’t it wonderful?” she whispered, while sliding her hand into Plotno’s, giving it a slight squeeze.

“It is indeed. I haven’t been this happy since . . .” he furrowed his brow, then held up an index finger, “since before Paul Lucas invaded our town.”

Anita put her free hand in her coat pocket feeling for the present prepared for Plotno. He coveted a good cigar. And Anita knew the one he favored. She bought it for him while in Anchorage a few months back— a gift of her heart, she told herself. At the time, Anita didn’t know it would turn out to be a gift of his heart as soon as he smoked the love-potion laced cigar. Her spell excited her more because she knew he thought her a dolt. He believed he controlled her. For a
while he did. A memory she detested.

Tonight, my love, the tables will be turned.

Anita disobeyed his command to go to the small, awful church and spy on the small, awful congregation. She went to her basement. Rebellion and secrecy were an intoxicating elixir. When practicing the black arts, the intoxication became so intense she could only equate it to having finally made love to a long-forbidden beau.

She first considered soaking the cigar in the potion but thought better of it. It would darken the tobacco leaves, and he might become suspicious. Anita rifled through her medicine cabinet and uncovered an ancient syringe. She injected the concoction into the center of the tightly rolled leaves. She watched with deep satisfaction as the potion disappeared into the tobacco, hidden just as it should be.

“Reverend, this is a present I have kept for you for such a special occasion as this.”

Plotno took his eyes off the orange glow and the black smoke billowing up as the water put out the fire. He looked at the offering from Anita.

A broader smile crossed his face as he thought of the anger this would cause his wife, Ransom.

“You are a treasure! You understand our core ideology: what feels good is good. That wife of mine has never understood me like you do! She still worries about my health of all things! So short-sighted. But you understand the need for pleasure.”

“I try,” Anita whispered.

“You succeed.” Plotno took the cigar, searching his pants pocket for a lighter.

“Here you go.” Anita produced one.

The lighter glinted gold and black in his hand. His initials were carved into it, the black absorbing light.

“You thought of everything,” he said as he flicked the lighter open, puffed the cigar until the tip glowed red and took a deep inhale. He exhaled and looked down at Anita.

“What a wonderful end to a wonderful day.”

Profligacy went to work, whispering to his mind, “She is the loveliest thing you have ever seen, Plotno. Forget your wife. This one knows what you love, and she loves what you do. Feel the craving for her growing in your gut. She is your obsession! You must have her.”

Plotno grabbed Anita around the waist. “I want you, and you know it. I can’t wait any longer.”

Anita smiled, took Plotno’s hand and led him into the Congregational Alliance. “I know just the place. It will be delicious!”

The door closed, and Atramentous settled in to watch.

Venenose flew up beside Profligacy. “Good work.”

“As always,” Profligacy answered.

Venenose sneered in satisfaction. “All to be done now is alert the wife.”

“Said. And done.” Profligacy called to the demon Parlous, stationed at Plotno’s residence.

“Now we wait,” Venenose said.

“Why do I feel like I must go to the Congregational Alliance?” Mrs. Plotno asked herself. She fought the urge. “Not where I want to be. I despise the place.”

She shook her head to try and clear the urgent need to go. “It’s not because I don’t love and take pride in Martin’s stature in the community. But I have better things to do with my time than sit
there and listen to him expound on feeling good and watching those Congregational Alliance groupies fall all over him. I get enough of his preaching at home.

“I’ll bake a cake. That always gets my mind off something.” Ransom headed for the kitchen.

Grab a knife. Something is wrong. Martin’s in danger! said the voice of Parlous in her head.

Terror gripped Ransom Plotno’s stomach. “Martin’s in trouble!”

She yanked open the knife drawer and bolted to the living room. She grabbed her purse and threw on a coat.

Ransom dashed up the street, butcher knife in hand, toward the church to save her Martin.

Plotno and Anita were entwined in front of the Congregational Alliance’s shiny, ornate altar.

“Now isn’t this the best place to make our love commitment?” Anita whispered in his ear, feeling his heart racing against hers.


Plotno and Anita were so engrossed in each other they didn’t hear the door of the church open. In his haste, the Right Reverend neglected to lock it.

Ransom Plotno stopped midstride, grabbing the church door before it slammed. It took her a minute to believe what she saw. Truth flooded her. Rage filled her heart and mind and propelled her forward.

The butcher knife flashed when she pointed it at her target. She did not see people as she ran toward the objects of her rage—only the horror of being deceived and humiliated for so long.

The first blow felt great; blood spurted from Martin’s neck. He fell atop Anita.

Anita screamed as she watched Martin’s blood fly in the air from the knife.

Ransom raised the blade over the helpless Anita.

Anita watched the knife’s rapid descent toward her right eye. She stopped screaming.

Martin fought a little longer. But in the end, he too lost the battle against the devoted wife turned assailant.

Ransom Plotno stared down at the bloody heaps on the floor and commented, “Looks like a bad load of laundry.”

She raised her voice until it echoed off the stone walls. “That’s exactly what you are, Martin Plotno, a bad load of laundry! Farewell and good riddance!”

Ransom walked calmly down the aisle to the door, then turned back. “Knifing you felt great, Martin, just like you always preached. Sorry I didn’t listen to you sooner!” Holding the knife high, she broke out in wild laughter at her own joke and burst through the doors of the Congregational Alliance church.

Miggie blocked the staircase to the street.

Oblivious to the ghastly site of Miggie Salisto, she grinned at him. Miggie smiled back, vacant sockets squishing the purple and black mixture from his eyes. “Well done, Ransom Plotno. You sure took your time giving the no-good jerk what he deserved!”

Ransom lowered the knife to her side. “You’re sure right!”

“There are more who should meet the same fate tonight, don’t you think?”

Ransom nodded. “I can come up with several members of this pack I’d like to see bleeding to death and hear screaming in terror—several women come to mind,” she mumbled, running a finger along the blade’s edge.

“Yes, many of them need to meet my new friend,” she said, unaware the blade cut deep into her thumb causing the flesh to lay open and bleed freely.

“First, you need to meet my friend. He is most anxious to know you.”

Ransom tensed and turned her dead eyes to Miggie’s vacant ones.

“It’s okay. He’s your pal, too. In fact, he’s the one who sent one of his soldiers to tell you about this tryst so you could set things right once and for all.”

Ransom stood, torn between finishing her blood bath and going to see this supposed ally.

“He is very powerful. He can help you destroy the others. You don’t have to do everything alone anymore.”

“Oh, I like that idea! Take me to him!”

Jo, returning from the tragic fire at the small church she loved, saw a sight horrifying her beyond words.

“God, help us.” She ducked beside the Congregational Alliance’s wall and peeked around the corner.

Ransom Plotno stood under a streetlight in front of the church. Maroon stripes covered her arms and the front of her legs. Small, red droplets adorned the front of her clothes and streaked her dark cherry Kool-Aid colored hair like macabre highlights.

Looks like a bad paint job, Jo thought.

A large butcher knife, shining with the same blood-red liquid, hung at Ransom’s side.

Ransom carried on an animated, one-sided conversation. She sauntered out from under the light, still talking to her unseen companion.

When Jo could see her no longer, she came out of hiding and made her way to the bottom of the church stairs.

“It’s blood, sure as life.” She lifted her eyes and saw footprints of scarlet leading from the church to the streetlight. She darted for the sheriff ’s office.

Atramentous smiled as he watched Jo skittering like a scared rabbit toward her destination.

“Run, little rat, run. The Sheriff will do you no good. The plan is coming together nicely. I can already taste the feast being prepared for me and all of Iconoclast’s soldiers.”

He pulled away from the church door, no longer needing to guard it and slithered up beside Ransom, flanking her on the left, Miggie still on her right.

Miggie nodded to Atramentous. “This is Atramentous, Ransom. One of your many new friends.”

“Hello,” Ransom said.

“Good evening, madame. I am pleased to meet you,” Atramentous answered.

Atramentous studied the blood-covered late Reverend’s wife. “More pleased than you can ever know.”

Atramentous narrowed his eyes and thought, You have no idea what horrors await you. But you are a pivotal player in Iconoclast’s plan. And I am going to get you safely to the ravine—and your eventual destruction.

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