The case of the blood Pendent by Patrick G Moloney.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Instalment two of the paranormal Jack Burke, detective series.

Submitted: March 07, 2017

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Submitted: March 07, 2017

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Jack Burke cursed under his breath as he picked the stack of envelopes from the post box; by the look of it most of them were bills. Not only that, but Jack was willing to bet that more than a few of them would be final reminders. He really needed to get himself another sectary; he had been without one since the last one had left his bed and employ months earlier. First though he needed to get back in the saddle and start earning a few bucks, he had not really worked since that crazy music box case. He still had trouble sleeping and yet he knew deep inside, that normal jobs would never appeal much to him again. The last case had taken him across a Rubicon and deep inside another place, he knew that he would be taking on less divorce cases from here on. Back in the small office he lit a cigarette and sat behind his battered old desk, taking a deep drag from the cigarette he exhaled a cloud of tobacco smoke. The small grey cloud of smoke settled below the ceiling, a ceiling that had been white once but was now brown as an ancient book page. Sighing heavily he placed the cigarette in the ash tray and began to tackle the stack of mail, as he had already surmised most of them were bills.

He hated this task but he couldn’t just ignore the mail, his filing system left quite a lot to be desired. Three quarters of the way through the mail now and Jack had a full waste paper basket, on his desk two small stacks of bills lay side by side. One of these stacks he would attempt to pay, the other would be put on the long finger. The last envelope to be opened looked different, for one it had no cellophane window and secondly the stationary looked to be of the expensive type. Jack held the unopened letter between his fingers, feeling the quality of the paper. This type of paper came from the kind of stationary outlets beloved of the aristocratic class, those people who looked down on the rest of society. Something in his mind gave him a sudden urge to just throw the letter unopened in the bin; Jack turned the envelope looking for a return address on the back. Nothing there to hint at the sender, the post mark showed it had been posted at the main post office in uptown. He was hesitating for some unknown reason in opening the envelope; a little voice at the back of his mind ridiculed his childish behaviour.

Jack did eventually open the envelope but only after filling himself a large Crested Ten Irish whisky from the ever present bottle in his desk drawer. Even then he lit another cigarette before he used the point of his switch blade to slice open the envelope. The paper itself was the same expensive type as the envelope, the address on the top right corner proved what he had already deducted. It was an address on the most exclusive road in the city, an area consisting of the homes of only the most rich and powerful of the city’s elite. The letter requested him to attend the address for a consultation; it was all a bit pretentious for his liking. Then again on the other hand he really was in no position to turn down any earner at this time; Jack reached across and lifted the handset on the black Bakelite rotary phone. He thought for a moment he may have been disconnected for arrears of his account, but the line crackled and a dial tone purred in his ear. Things had been so quiet lately he thought the phone was broken, he would give it today to see if any business came in. If not he would have no choice but to go and see what the gentry were offering.

Jack woke with a groan his neck ached from sleeping on the battered couch, his mouth felt as if it had been stuffed with cotton wool. He put his feet on the ground and stood up, the room lurched and he thought he might vomit. The empty whisky bottle stood on the desk beside an over flowing ash tray, a mute testament to his present malaise. He really needed to cut back on his alcohol intake, eventually the nausea abated and he stumbled to the small washroom and toilet. Shaving turned out to be an experience fraught with danger as his hand trembled, the eyes that stared back from the mirror were blood shot and he thought he detected a slightly yellowish tint in the whites. Jack’s life was slipping downhill fast; even he himself could see this. A life spent in the mire had stained his very soul and left him existing in a sort of limbo. A tremble of the hand and a quick stinging pain brought him back from his self-pity trip, he cursed as the blood spilled from the tiny scratch. The large amount of whisky in his system had thinned the blood it took him quite a while to stem the flow. A liberal splash of old spice after shave served as a little self-punishment, as it burned into the recent cut. By the time he was finished cleaning up the worst of the hangover had abated, he even looked slightly human again. Jack pulled on his camel hair over coat and braced himself to face the world, time to get back in the saddle and make some dough.

Jack’s beat up old Chevy stood out like a sore thumb as he parked at the base of the steps leading to the entrance, the house and grounds would defiantly run into six figures in value. Money like this could buy the services of the most prestigious private detectives in the city, so what in the hell could they want from Jack Burke. Still he had driven the whole way out from the city centre; he might as well see what they wanted. The manservant who answered the door looked at Jack as if he were something the cat dragged in; Jack pushed the letter into his hand with unnecessary force. For a moment the butler almost let his mask of bored indifference slip, a glint of anger in his eyes quickly disappeared and he was once again the consummate professional. The man closed the door on Jack with a barely discernible sneer, only to reopen the door minutes later and beckon Jack inside. If the outside of the house was impressive than the inside was breath taking, everything about it screamed old world money. The butler showed Jack into the library and told him to wait, the room was all walnut panelled with countless hardback volumes stretching to the ceiling on every wall. He was willing to bet the books alone would be worth a king’s ransom.

Jack was studying a section of books dedicated to the occult when he heard someone enter; he turned to find a tall gaunt man standing behind him. The man’s demeanour suggested a person who was not long for this life, yet his eyes burned with an intensity that belied his demeanour. “Thank you for coming at such short notice Jack” the man addressed him as if they were lifelong friends. Jack took the man’s skeletal hand and was immediately shocked at the power of his grip; it seems this man was full of contradictions. The man crossed to a drinks cabinet and arrived back with two crystal glasses of amber liquid, Jack sipped his as they sat beside the large marble fireplace; he was slightly surprised to find it was Crested Ten. The man introduced himself as George Randal Cox the third, Jack wondered vaguely what had become of the first two. It seems Mr Cox had misplaced his wife somewhere and wanted Jack to find her, When Jack asked the standard question as to whether the man had contacted the police he was taken back by the answer. The man treated him to a bemused smile and his eyes burned with what looked like anger, but it was not this that surprised Jack. It was the words he spoke, “This case Jack is more suitable to a man of discretion, such as a man that can find a music box and remain silent regarding the circumstances”. It took all Jacks self-control to prevent him throwing the whisky in the skeletal features and storming out. The man read Jack’s reaction immediately, “Now, now Jack don’t be hasty, hear me out.

On the drive back to his office Jack mentally beat himself up, but deep inside he knew that when he had taken the case of the music box. It had set him on a path that he might never come back from; Cox had said the same but in more eloquent words. So like it or not Jack Burke was about to move further beyond the shadows, he was about to go where unseen things roamed. Back in the office he threw the folder Cox had given him on the desk, and then he turned his chair towards the window and lit a cigarette. It was quite a while before he garnered the courage to open that folder, because he knew once he did there was no going back. Eventually Jack went to the liquor store for a bottle of whisky and a couple of packs of smokes. The folder was far more extensive than he had ever imagined, it covered the last six weeks before the woman went AWOL. There was a list of phone numbers and addresses of her nearest confidants and the clubs and societies she was a member of. A stack of glossy photos showed the lady in a variety of poses and environments. She really was a looker in an aristocratic old world way, she was not a classic beauty but it was still hard to believe she would marry that skeletal creature Cox. Still he supposed money made for a good bed fellow; Cox certainly seemed to have this in spades.

A couple of hours later Jack sat brooding over the photographs, the ash tray was over flowing but the glass of whisky he poured sat untouched. Something about the whole situation bothered him, according to the information there had been nothing unusual in her behaviour in the days leading up to her disappearance. A man like Cox would have any cops in the city jumping through hoops, so why leave it to a washed out Private eye like Jack. Jack reached into his inside Jacket pocket and removed the second envelope Cox had given him; he spilled the contents on to the desk top. Twenty crisp one hundred dollar bills, his retainer as Cox had called it. This was the kind of money you did not come across every day, a little voice in the back of his head whispered Judas money. Something niggled at the back of his mind, somewhere in the detailed information was something that had wormed its way into his mind. But for the life of him he could not bring it to the fore, jack lit another cigarette took a small sip of whisky and started to read the whole thing over again. It was only when he studied the photographs for the third time it came to him, she was wearing a very distinctive pendent. Now jack knew what was niggling him about the dossier, whoever had compiled it for Cox had mentioned the pendant numerous times. Now that he thought back Cox had gone to great pains to emphasize that his wife had been wearing an unusual pendent when she went missing.

Jack contemplated filling another whisky but thought better of it; this case was beginning to feel even stranger to him. It was as if Cox was more interested in recovering the pendant than he was in finding his wife. Fetching a magnifying glass he began to examine the photographs that the pendent was visible in, it really was an unusual piece. It was a large stone mounted in a gold surround; the stone itself looked as if it was filled with liquid fire. A number of photographs had been taken at some society dinner or other, the pendent was clearly visible in stark contrast to her pale generous cleavage, in her low cut party gown. Something else about these photographs now became clear to him, in at least three of them a tall dark haired man with a pencil moustache was in frame. At first Jack thought that the man’s down turned eyes were lustfully leering at her boobs, but now jack was sure it was the pendent that had captured the man’s attention. This is where he needed to start his search; he would begin with the man who had wondering eyes. A quick trip to one of his contacts proved fruitful, he was a society photographer. He immediately identified the man as a socialite who owned a large country house about twenty miles outside the city, but more interestingly he confirmed the fact that the man and Cox’s wife were both members of some historical society or other. Things were beginning to gain momentum and Jack found himself driving out of the city, he was headed in the direction of a large country home.

The low winter sun made driving conditions difficult; so it was already dusk by the time he reached his destination. Jack sat in the car outside the huge ornate gates leading into the grounds, they were locked and he was hesitant to use the intercom on the pier. A small voice in his head told him he needed to be very cautious about this; he decided to wait until it was fully dark before trying to gain access on foot. An hour later he stood beside his car and slipped on the shoulder holster containing the nine millimetre pistol he carried in the glove compartment. He circled the grounds until he found a tree with low hanging branches; he scaled the tree and dropped over the high wall. The grounds were sprawling and it was another twenty minutes before he found himself at the huge house, a number of high-end automobiles were parked at the front of the mansion. Jack made his way to the side of the house; here the light from French doors illuminated a patch of the manicured lawn. Jack drifted further out into the shadows. Here he could get a view of the interior of the room, a number of people both men and women were having a high time. They drank and laughed and cavorted, among this people was Cox’s wife. She certainly did not look to be there against her will, Jack watched as the man with the pencil moustache nuzzled her neck and fondled her brazenly as she smiled.

Jack’s first instinct was to leave; it would give him great pleasure to tell Cox that his wife had shacked up with an even richer guy. However there was more to this situation than meets the eye, deep down inside Jack knew this and his professional curiosity was on overdrive. One moment the people were partying like there was no tomorrow, then suddenly they all began to file out of the room as if a fire alarm had sounded. Jack waited for a while before trying the French doors; to his surprise they were unlocked. It took Jack quite a while to explore the ground floor of the huge house; there was no sign of life anywhere. The first and second floors proved to be just as deserted, he was totally baffled as to where they had disappeared to. Back on the ground floor again he made his way towards the kitchen, on impulse he tried a door he had originally thought was just a closet. The door opened onto a stairwell leading to some kind of a cellar he surmised, flickering light was visible down below and the low sound of voices. Jack watched from his hiding place behind a wine rack, they stood in a circle around the naked figure. In the flickering candle light Cox’s wife’s naked body looked like a finely sculptured alabaster statute; she was a sight to behold a rare beauty indeed. She held the pendent aloft her eyes closed as she mumbled incoherent words, every now and again the others responded in unison.

Another time Jack would have laughed at their behaviour, but ever since the night with the music box he was no longer so cynical about such things. The naked woman continued to mutter the strange words as the group looked on in adoration; the upheld pendent began to glow first like a crimson flame then it turned into a dark blue flame. Trickery was Jacks first thought, but he could not deny the sudden and shocking drop of temperature. The basement suddenly felt like a cold storage locker, the candle flames flickered and died only to return as dark blue almost black flames. Whispers could be heard from the shadows, jack turned his head looking for their source. When he looked back a huge figure stood in front of the naked woman, it towered above the group. Nothing of its features were visible, they were totally hidden by a hooded cloak. A foul rancid odour filled the room causing jack to gag, a frightened murmuring spread through the onlookers. The hooded figure raised a gnarled finger on the end of which was a razor sharp talon; it crooked the finger in a beckoning motion. The man with pencil moustache approached nervously, it was then the carnage began. The things arm moved in a blur of speed slicing the man in two with its talons, blood spattered the screaming onlookers.

All pandemonium broke loose as the creature went about his deadly work, the air was filled with screams of agony and blood and body parts flew through the air. Jack had the pistol in his hand but the thing moved about like a blur, the naked woman was sent flying through the air. Her body crashing into the wine rack and landing heavily at Jack’s feet, the candles were sent flying and a stack of old newspapers were set alight. The cellar began to fill with flames and smoke, as the creature continued its carnage. The whole thing was like a scene from Dante’s inferno; Jack threw the woman across his shoulder like a sack and started up the stairs. The smoke and fumes were searing his lungs and by the time he got to the ground floor he was ready to pass out. Then someone took the woman from him and another person began to drag him from the house, Jack came around on the lawn outside. Cox was there with two burly figures, the naked woman lay on the grass beside him. When he got to his feet and looked down at her it was plain to see she was dead, her stomach was open and her entrails exposed. He watched Cox bed over her and in a nonchalant way remove the pendent from her neck, he gestured to the men and they carried her back inside the house which was well ablaze by now. They left without a word or a backwards glance as Jack watched the fire take hold of the mansion.

Jack Burke held the envelope between his fingers and felt the quality of the paper, it was the expensive type. Then again you would expect nothing else from a man of Cox’s position, this time Jack did not hesitate before using the switch blade to open the envelope. Five thousand dollars in crisp one hundred dollar bills were contained inside, that and a short note thanking him for his services. There was also a reference to Jack’s on going discretion regarding the case, he smiled ironically to himself. After all who in their right mind would believe his account of what had happened in the country home, that and the fact he would never want his name associated with mass murder and carnage. Later on his way to the bar he stopped to pick up a paper, the headlines were all about the fire and the deaths of the socialites. Judging by the stories and the amount of speculation the cops had little or no clue as to what happened. Sitting at the bar he sipped his whisky as he read another story in the social section, apparently one George Randal Cox the third was devastated to announce the heart-breaking news. His beloved wife had died suddenly as a result of a boating accident; he would be taking an extended vacation to come to terms with his loss.

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