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
SAFETY IN NUMBERS
An empty and dark sheriff ’s office greeted Jo. She ran to Bart’s home. No luck there, either. She headed back to the office, rounded a corner and bulldozed Caroline, knocking them both to
the ground. “Oomph!” Caroline’s library books flew through the air like dancing ballerinas.
“Oh! Caroline! I’m so sorry!” Jo kneeled to gather the novels scattered around them.
“What’s the hurry?”
“Have you seen the Sheriff?”
“No, maybe he’s at home.”
Jo shook her head while trying to catch her breath.
“Sit down, you look terrible.” Caroline motioned to the bench in front of the shop.
Jo plopped down.
“Murder!” Jo wheezed while gasping for air.
“What are you talking about?”
“Ransom Plotno’s murdered someone!”
“Omigosh! You must be mistaken, Jo. Ransom Plotno is the mousiest woman on Earth. She’s scared of her own shadow!” I never did understand how she caught such a wonderful, handsome man as the Reverend, Caroline thought.
“It was Ransom! I saw her! Big as life!”
Caroline resisted the urge to cover hear ears from Jo’s deafening trill.
“And she was bat-crazy! She looked like someone out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—standing in front of the CA church—blood from head to toe. I thought it was paint at first, then I saw the butcher knife dangling from her hand. I need to find the Sheriff!”
“Well, I still can’t believe it was Ransom, Jo, she’s way too mild.” Caroline unlocked the door to her salon, Jo trailing behind.
Caroline retrieved her cellphone and punched in a number.
“Who are you calling?”
“Kat Tovslosky. If anyone knows where Bart is, she will.”
The phone rang and rang.
Caroline hung up and thought. She punched in another number.
Grandma Bricken willed herself to ignore the phone. The events of the last few days created a need to stay focused on the small group conversation.
The phone continued ringing.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” She pushed herself back from the table and walked from the room.
Bart watched her leave, then said, “We have no clue who this fifth victim is to be. And I don’t want another death on my hands. I’ve seen enough death to last me a lifetime. Starting a lumberyard is sounding better all the time.”
“What?” Bart yelled.
“Caroline’s on the phone. Sounds urgent.”
“Unless there’s been another murder, or another fire for that matter, tell her I’ll call her back. This town! Jaywalking is urgent,” Bart said to the group.
“He’ll call you back.”
“Grandma! Get Bart on the phone! Jo is with me, says there’s been another murder! This time at the Congregational Alliance.”
Bart watched the doorway, waiting for his great-aunt to return.
Grandma Bricken held the phone for the Sheriff. “Another killing.”
Bart jumped up and grabbed the receiver.
Grandma’s face was ash grey. She walked back to the table and fell into her chair. “There’s been another murder.”
Kat and Ken simultaneously exclaimed, “What!”
Bart poked his head in the door to the kitchen. “Iconoclast seems to have claimed his last victim. I need to get to the Congregational Alliance.” He grabbed his hat from the peg at Grandma’s door.
“Not the one, Sheriff. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be sitting at this table right now. We’d be fighting for our lives,” Josiah answered.
“No matter if it is the fifth or not there’s another body, and I gotta go.”
Grandma rose and headed to the hallway.
So did the rest of the group.
“We’re all coming with you,” Kat said.
“No, you’re not.”
“Listen, Cousin. You ended up in a puddle on the floor tonight and almost blew your brains out. Mom always said, ‘safety in numbers.’ We’re going with you.”
“Suit yourself.” Bart hurried out the door.
The Sheriff and his impromptu deputies walked to the Congregational Alliance. It loomed above Main Street—tomb silent.
At the foot of the steps, Bart motioned for all to stop. “Stay. Except you, Melbourne.”
Bart and Ken walked to the top of the stairs.
Ken drew his gun. “Ready?”
They moved quickly into the building.
Bart pointed to Ken to take the right.
Bart took the left. “Clear on this side.”
Gun held chest level, Ken crept up the right side of the sanctuary.
He lowered the gun. “Clear.”
They met at the altar. The scantily dressed bodies of Martin Plotno and Anita Conner lay exposed for all to see.
Ken let out a low whistle. “The saints preserve us.”
Bart checked for a pulse on both and shook his head at Ken. He released his phone from its case and called Doc Billings.
“On my way.”
“Whoever is responsible for this massacre sure hated the reverend, not to mention the librarian.”
“Oh, yeah,” Ken agreed. “The carnage is overkill. Look at the way Anita’s eyes have been gouged out, and the late reverend’s back and neck look like hamburger.”
“If Ransom did find out about this affair, it’s conceivable she snapped,” Bart answered.
“Yep. We best find her—and fast.”
“We go together. I don’t want either of us looking for a crazed killer without backup.”
Bart jogged across the street to Kat, Grandma Bricken, Pastor Lucas, and Josiah. He looked around. “Where’s Wendy? I thought she’d have caught wind of this by now.”
“You know Wendy. The only thing to trump her love of good drama, is her loyalty to her sister. Seems Mandy is missing—again. She left for Anchorage and told me to call her with any updates.”
“Well, it’s best. One less person to fear for.”
Kat nodded. “Understand.”
“Three things: First, it’s a horrible scene. Anita Conner and Reverend Plotno are dead.”
“Both of them?” Paul asked.
Bart held up a hand. “Yes. No time for questions. Second, Kat wait for Doc Billings to come and take care of the bodies. Then, find Jo and Caroline, tell them to go to Caroline’s. We’ll be there as soon as we can.”
“Sure thing.” Kat watched Bart run back to the church.
Doc Billings’ unmistakable Audi slid up to the curb.
“Evening,” he said.
Kat pointed. “In the church, Doc.”
Billings grabbed his bag from the passenger’s seat, jogged up the steps and into the church.
“Lord, show us what to do,” Paul began. “You, O God, are sovereign, even when the world or the situation shouts to us that You are not. Please help us to know what we are to do, O God. We cannot stop or defeat what is happening in our beloved town but, God, You can. Please grant us strength.”
When Grandma and Josiah bowed their heads in agreement, Kat followed suit.
“In Jesus’s name. Amen.”
The funeral home’s black hearse pulled up fifteen minutes later.
“This is going to be a long night,” Kat said.
“How could this happen?” Grandma asked.
Josiah answered, “Lust and jealousy are involved.”
He turned and looked down the street toward the small church standing no longer. He longed to go there. To get away from the horror he felt building, a tangible evil working up for the kill, so
close he could almost touch it.